Facial Asymmetry and Jaw Discomfort: TMJ
When you are looking in the mirror or taking photos, sometimes you will find that the left and right sides of your face are different (or asymmetric). Or, you may experience difficulty opening your mouth when eating or even have pain. Today, we will learn about the main cause of these symptoms: temporomandibular joint, also knew as TMJ, disorders.
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ. The pain is usually described as blunt pain occurring in the mandibular joint and adjacent areas including the ear. Some people have mandibular dysfunction but no pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Migraine and/or chronic headache
- Mandibular muscle stiffness
- Limited or locking mandibular movement
- When you open or close your mouth (e.g. yawning), a painful click, burst, or friction will occur in the jaw joint
- Occlusal problems
- Ear pain, stress and/or tinnitus
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness and visual problems
- Tooth sensitivity
Who is most at risk of TMJ disorder?
People with the following are at risk for experiencing TMJ disorders:
- Emotional irritability, mental tension, work pressure and insomnia
- Toothache, tooth closure problems, night bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) and dental disease
- A tendency to eat tough food and uneven chewing habits
- Suprachiasmatic syndrome, which is characterized by things such as rounded shoulders, hunchback, concave chest, head-forward posture, neck and shoulder tension, arm numbness and pain.
- Trauma, excessive yawning, cold stimulation, poor sitting posture, etc. can also cause joint, peripheral muscle group and ligament damage, leading to the disorder.
Treatment for TMJ
Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint is a disease with a high incidence rate. Active treatment is necessary to help resolve it. We can correct and loosen the temporomandibular joint according to the movement problems of the joint. Non-traumatic treatment/ conservative treatment, biting therapy and traditional Chinese medicine treatment can be selected according to individual condition. The following treatments are available in our Body & Soul Medical Clinics:
Therapeutic/ Conservative treatment (Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Physiotherapy)
Physical therapy methods such as heat, cold compress, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and so on can have an effect on the disease.
Chiropractic treatment helps to relax and rebalance the TMJ disorder that is caused by restrictions in the shoulder and neck regions.
Herbal medicine, acupuncture, and tuina massage can be selected and combined according to the health situation and severity of individual illness.
In addition, TMJ has a strong relationship with dental health, so it is highly recommended that patients develop good oral habits. It may be necessary to go to a professional dental hospital for orthodontic treatment, fixed restoration treatment or use of an occlusal pad.
As always, our practitioners recommend simple lifestyle changes and things you can do on your own to help support treatment. If you suffer from acute TMJ pain, there is a lot you can do to help yourself:
- Apply hot and cold packs to reduce muscle tension and inflammation.
- Eat softer food.
- Try to avoid clenching and grinding the teeth and avoid excessive or prolonged opening of the mouth (it is best to keep the tongue up, gently resting on the hard palate, with the teeth very slightly apart as a resting position for the jaw which helps support the TMJ).
- Avoid sleeping on the stomach to minimize strain on the jaw during sleep.
- If you aren’t sleeping well, try to address the underlying reason(s).
In terms of long-term prevention, you can:
- Start to do exercises which improve TMJ movement, make the TMJ movement symmetrical, and strengthen muscles.
- Do exercises to correct posture and minimize repetitive postural strain.
Your practitioner will evaluate the mechanism and factors contributing so that they can give you some pointers to maintain the benefits of treatment and keep the TMJ healthy.
The multidisciplinary team at Body & Soul can be an excellent resource if you are dealing with TMJ symptoms. Contact us to make an appointment with one of our experts.