With a few short weeks until Christmas the build-up, and all that it entails, is fully underway. The festive season offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with family and friends, and we all love it – really! The flip side is that it can all be pretty stressful. The prospect of sitting down with a dozen or so relatives, aged from 9 months to 90, for a slap-up Christmas dinner (that you’ve spent hours cooking) can get the most laid-back among us clenching their jaw and grinding their teeth. If this sounds like you, then read on.
Do you ever experience, headaches, facial pain, earache, popping, grating or clicking noises when opening your mouth or chewing, coupled with jaw, neck or shoulder pain? Do you struggle to open your mouth wide or does your jaw lock? If so, you could be suffering from pain in your TMJ or temporomandibular joint.
TMJ and TMD explained
In case you’re wondering (and most people haven’t a clue), the TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. Disorder of the TMJ (aka TMD) affects that joint and the muscles involved in chewing, manifesting itself in the symptoms listed above. There’s no definitive cause but TMD can be brought on by injury, over-clenching the jaw and teeth or unknowingly grinding your teeth (bruxism) causing wear and tear in the inside jaw. Stress and unexpressed anger are often behind such behaviours.
Untreated TMD can significantly affect a sufferer’s quality of life, and not in a good way. There are a few things you can do at home to alleviate the discomfort, such as:
- Eating soft foods
- Avoiding excessive jaw action (ie chewing gum, biting nails and clenching)
- Applying a warm or cold flannel to the affected area several times a day for 10-20 minutes
- Massaging the painful muscles
- Not resting your chin on your hand
The power of osteopathy
If symptoms continue, do seek medical advice. Your dentist can advise if an uneven bite is the cause. Osteopathy can also be effective in addressing the local TMJ pain using osteopathic techniques combined with Low Level Laser Therapy but, importantly, looking at the bigger musculoskeletal picture, which involves the relationship between the jaw, neck and upper back. I receive referrals from dentists whose patients suffer with TMD and one patient who came to see me with extreme tiredness and TMJ pain said:
‘I was first treated by Robin Kiashek two years ago for headaches and tiredness. Robin used Cranial Osteopathy to successfully alleviate these symptoms. I have been seeing Robin periodically since that time and have found his holistic, sympathetic approach to treatment to be highly beneficial. He diagnosed TMJ (temporomandibular joint – a joint hinging the upper and lower jaw bones) dysfunction as a principal cause of my symptoms. This was confirmed by a dentist and further by a consultant neurologist. Robin has been able to mitigate the pain, relieve the symptoms and hasten the recovery. I would highly recommend Robin based on my experience to anyone needing osteopathic treatment.’ (JS, a patient).
If you’re a TMD sufferer who wants to alleviate painful symptoms, then why not request an appointment?