Are you one of the several million people who have pain in and around the jaw?
Do you often get headaches for no apparent reason? Do you sometimes have difficulty opening or closing your mouth or appears for no reason to lock either open or shut?
Do you experience clicking, grating and have you ever had pain in a perfectly healthy tooth which cannot be explained? Are you in the habit of clenching or grinding your jaw?
Do you have tired or sore jaws when you wake up in the morning? Do you experience ringing in your ears, pressure behind your eyes, or tearing for no apparent reason? If you have answered “YES” to these questions, you may have TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ? Why is it so difficult to diagnose and treat?
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. The TMJ is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull.
The joints move up, down, side to side and enable you to talk, chew, and yawn. The muscles attached to and surrounding the joint control its position and movement.
The TMJ combines a hinge action with sliding motions and is one of the most complex joints in your body. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disc, which keeps the movement smooth.
TMJ diseases/disorders are a complex set of conditions that can cause pain in the area of the joint and associated muscles and/or problems using the jaw. Both or just one of the joints may be effected. TMJ diseases and disorder can affect a person’s ability to speak, eat, chew, swallow, and even breathe.
There are mainly three categories that TMJ diseases and disorders fall into and a person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time:
- Inflammatory joint disease, including arthritis, condition effecting joints
- Synovitis, inflammatory condition of the synovial membrane, membrane lines the joint and produces a fluid that lubricates the joint.
- Myofascial pain, a discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function and can also extend to the muscles in the neck and shoulders.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1 in 4 people suffer with TMJ. However many people have this condition without knowing it. Symptoms are wide and varied. Sufferers often struggle with receiving a definitive diagnosis. People can suffer for many years without hope. Medical intervention is often expensive and invasive with low success rates.
How can I treat you as a massage therapist?
My role is not to diagnose TMJ it is down to your dental surgeon to discuss and diagnose. Even for your dental surgeon diagnosing TMJ diseases and disorders can be difficult and very confusing.
Massage can bring about a huge relief for TMJ sufferers where the soft tissues are involved.
A consultation to discuss your concerns and there will be an intra oral assessment to determine if there is a problem with the joint and soft tissues before any treatment can commence.
I am in a unique position to help TMJ suffers having been fully trained to help give relief to soft issues and muscles even if there is a physical problem with the disc or the joint itself, helping to reduce pain and improved function.
Please note, that if you have not had a discussion and been assessed by your dental surgeon then I shall advise you to see your surgeon to be diagnosed accordingly. But I am able to carry on with treating you.
- Have you a poor bite, or poorly fitting denture, crowns or fillings. Occlusal imbalances/malocclusion
- Do you clench or grind, especially during sleep
- Chewing gum on a regular basis (dominant chewing side)
- A trauma, accident, or injury to the neck, jaw, or head e.g. whiplash
- Chronic illness, such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, or rheumatoid arthritis
- Displacement of TM discs – this often causes lock jaw – open/shut
- Malformations of the face, neck or jaw – Bite jaw relationships
- Extensive dental work or extraction that put stress on TM joints
- Excessive telephone use: bend head to one side whiles ton the phone, or cradle phone between head and shoulders
- Jaw, face, neck, and shoulder pain
- Headaches of varying intensity, especially in the area around the temples
- Popping, clicking, or grating noises in the jaw joint
- Deep jaw pain
- Difficulty opening your mouth, speaking or manipulating the jaw from side to side
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Earache without the presence of infection
- Glop in the throat, a sensation cough it up/swallow it of something being stuck that will not go down
- Unevenly worn teeth
- Twitching of the face or eye muscles
- Disordered sleep
- Photosensitivity and sensitive to certain sounds
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Trismus, difficulty opening mouth normally to 30/40 mm – two to three fingers width
How Many Treatments?
Six weekly treatments are advised to gain the most benefit and response to each treatment as relief will vary for each individual. Then monthly to six weekly maintenance is advised to keep TMJ disorder in check.
My TMJ Journey
My journey started with leaning to become a competent TMJ therapist who can help people that have been suffering for a long time in pain and discomfort with TMJ and not being able to get it treated
I have been trained by Tracey Kiernan Blend Therapy and Training who herself is a fully qualified Dental Nurse since 1993 which led to her developing her ground-breaking TMJ protocol in 2000. With the encouragement of her dentist she developed a powerful proven protocol for the treatment of TMJ.
Tracey has trained hundreds of therapists over the last 16 years across the UK and Ireland who are now getting people out of pain and restriction with her unique protocol and she has created the TMJ Pain Clinic at www.tmjpainclinic.info which is an online virtual clinic where sufferers can access advice and support on TMJ and where you can also locate a TMJ therapy Practitioner in the UK.