How soon can I get relief from TMD pain?
The symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can be inconvenient, bothersome, and downright painful. In fact, many people with TMD experience pain so severe that it interferes with their lives. That’s why many people want to get relief — and get relief now.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have TMD and may be given incorrect diagnoses as they try to get answers to their health concerns. Or, they may be told to take pain relievers and sent on their way.
These are some of the obstacles people with TMD may face, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you see an experienced healthcare provider who can properly diagnose and treat this painful condition, you can get relief much sooner.
Confusing and Painful Symptoms
So what does TMD feel like? The answer is different for everyone. Jaw pain, clicking, and popping are common. But the symptoms go far beyond those relating to the jaw.
TMD causes a wide range of symptoms that can seem like other health issues. That’s because the muscles in the jaw, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ), are connected to other muscles in the face and neck, which connect to the back and the rest of the body.
In addition, the TMJ is in close proximity to the ears, which can lead to its own set of symptoms that can cause pain, hearing problems, and even dizziness.
TMD is often confused with:
- Ear infections or ear aches
- Headaches or migraines
- Back or neck injuries or pain
- Inner ear or balance problems
- Hearing loss
- Anxiety or mental health issues
- Toothaches or oral health issues
Because TMD causes much more than pain in the jaw, its symptoms may look like another health condition entirely. Ongoing dizziness or ringing in the ears often leads people to think they have an ear problem — when in fact, it could be their temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Some people are told that there’s nothing wrong with them physically and the pain is caused by a mental health issue.
TMD’s mysterious symptoms are difficult to diagnose, and therefore, often lead to frustration and ongoing symptoms while people wait for the right treatment.
A Long Road to Diagnosis
One of the reasons people are so eager to get relief from TMD is they have likely lived with it for a long time. Unfortunately, because the symptoms of TMD often mimic other health problems, people may go for weeks, months, or even years before they get a proper diagnosis.
During this time, they are trying to deal with pain and continue with life. By the time they get a diagnosis and are ready to pursue treatment, relief cannot come soon enough.
Fortunately, with the help of a healthcare professional who is experienced in treating TMD and orofacial pain, people can quickly get on the road to healing and feeling better.
Treating the Triggers
Treating severe TMD isn’t an overnight fix. First, a person and their health care provider should discuss possible TMD triggers. This can include things like:
- High levels of chronic stress
- Posture and ergonomics issues that put pressure on the neck and jaw
- Improper sleeping position
- A mattress or pillow that doesn’t properly support the body
- Teeth grinding during the day or night
- Allergies or ongoing nasal congestion
- Chewing gum, nails, pencils, or other objects
- Eating too many crunchy or chewy foods
- Hormonal changes
- Injuries or accidents
- Nutritional deficiencies
Indeed, many of these TMD triggers are not things that people believe could be linked to their jaw problems. Things like nasal congestion can cause mouth breathing, which can stress the jaw and facial muscles. A saggy or too-firm mattress can put stress on the back, neck, and.or facial muscles, leading to tension and misalignment of the TMJ.
Addressing TMD triggers is an important part of treatment, as it gets to the root cause of TMD. In addition, it’s important to get accurate pictures of the head and neck, as well as an analysis of your unique jaw movement and biting forces. These types of factors can only be properly measured with the latest medical technology designed to help people with TMD.
Why Pain Relievers Aren’t the Answer
While some may assume that over-the-counter pain relievers will take care of TMD, this is usually not the case. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can be helpful for some short-term relief, but they are far from a long-term solution.
In fact, it can be dangerous to take these medicines long-term as they may lead to stomach bleeding, ulcers, and even kidney problems. They may also be linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
The anti-inflammatory power in these medicines can be helpful in calming down an acute flare of TMD when taken for only a couple of days. But this should not be a long-term strategy. A person who has TMD needs someone to help them address the underlying issue and prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan to address the whole issue, rather than simply masking the symptoms with pain relievers.
TMD Treatment that Works
The goal of TMD treatment should be to not only give you relief, but to help prevent progression of the disease. Your healthcare provider should work with you to manage or avoid TMD triggers and provide education on how you can feel your best.
In addition, many people benefit from a customized orthotic appliance. This is different from — and far superior to — a standard bite splint. Bite splints simply prevent damage to the teeth from grinding, but do not help with jaw misalignment and continued stress on the joint. In fact, many bite splints cause the user to grind even more as the jaw continues to clench.
Using Natural Treatments
Not all successful TMD treatment comes from the latest medical technology. In fact, using natural treatment in combination with advanced medicine is the best way to get fast and effective relief from TMD pain.
As part of our natural treatments, we include treatments like:
- Jaw stretching
- Specialized jaw exercises
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Essential oils
These may be part of a comprehensive plan to address TMD symptoms of all types. But knowing how to harness the natural power of these treatments is key. Simply stretching at home or trying essential oils yourself may not give you the results you need. Instead, rely upon the expertise of dental professionals who know what works best and how to apply them to your individual needs.
Are you tired of living with TMJ pain and symptoms that are holding you back from life? Contact MedCenter TMJ to set up your appointment today. You can get on the path to healing and relief with a plan that’s customized for you.