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Managing TMJ Symptoms and Treatment Effectively

Jan 22, 2008
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is very painful - even debilitating - and many TMJ patients are willing to go to any extreme to treat this disorder. Unfortunately for many patients, despite their willingness to do "whatever it takes," they frequently fail to get the results they're looking for. Ironically, the simple solutions are sometimes the most effective, and there are ways to self-treat TMJ that are frequently more effective than surgery.

The temporomandibular joint - found on each side of the face - is one of the most complicated joints in the entire body. Its range of motion includes side to side, backward and forward, as well as opening and closing. There are so many muscles and movements associated with the temporomandibular joint that is perhaps not surprising that there are millions of people with TMJ problems.

Common TMJ symptoms include painful headaches, muscle tension, jaw clicking and popping and even jaw locking. Neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, ear pain, tinnitus, and pain in the cheeks, temples, sinuses and eyes are other frequent symptoms of TMJ.

Barring any physical injury, stress is often the primary cause of TMJ. The pain is due to the tension and muscle tightness that occurs around the joint. Interestingly, even though your pain may be centered around the temporomandibular joint, tense muscles in other areas of your body may be pulling and tugging on muscles attached to the TMJ, actually causing the TMJ problem. Naturally, it is important to find the true source of the tension and relieve that source in order to improve the TMJ pain.

TMJ treatment options can include massage and other relaxation techniques to relieve stress on muscles. Muscle relaxants, night guards worn in the mouth, and heat and ice packs are some of the treatment options commonly recommended by doctors and dentists.

However of all of these TMJ treatment choices, the one that seems to have fastest and best lasting results are TMJ exercises - which involve exercising the muscles in question. These series of short three-minute exercises can produce results far more dramatic than any medication or surgery can offer.

So, what steps can you take to make it easier to manage and treat temporomandibular joint disorder? Keep a journal of any TMJ symptom that you may encounter. For instance, when you first feel headache or dizziness, make a note in a journal. Or when you experience jaw clicking or neck or shoulder pain, make a note of it. Then on a regular basis keep track of any changes in these symptoms.

Once a TMJ treatment - be it exercises, massage or medication - has been prescribed for you, keep another journal in which you describe the results. Have the symptoms improved? Are they worse? How long does it take for the symptoms to clear up? Does the pain return as frequently? How long can you go between headaches or neck pain?

If you are taking prescription medication for your TMJ pain, keep a record of what you take and when. Is it helping the symptoms? Are there any side effects? Keep track of when side effects occur and how severe they are. Having this information handy will help your doctor prescribe the treatment that best addresses your overall health.

Setting up journals like the ones described here is easy to do. You can use a paper worksheet, a computer word processing program, or even a spreadsheet program like Excel.

You owe it to yourself to take an active role in managing your own health. TMJ is incredibly painful, but there are ways to treat the tension that causes the problem and eliminate the symptoms. You need to use every tool at your disposal to make sure you get the best results possible.
About the Author
Jason Jantzi writes for www.Health-Kit.com and is a specialist in researching treatments for pain and discomfort. Download a free TMJ Health Kit from Health-Kit.com and take control of your TMJ symptoms today.
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