It can happen at the most inconvenient time: your TMD unexpectedly hits you with pain, stiffness, or both. Sudden TMD flare ups can happen to anyone, and they can quickly bring your life to a screeching halt.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms and get by until you’re able to get into our office. We’ll tell you how to manage a TMD “attack” so you can get on with your life.
Focus on relaxing. Yes, this is difficult when you’re in pain or you can’t move your jaw. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do. In any emergency situation, panic only makes things worse. Anxiety and adrenaline can make the pain more intense, muscles will be tighter, and you won’t be able to focus mentally. Deep breathing, thinking about a relaxing place, and lying down in a quiet area can all help.
Get your hands on heat or cold. If possible, keep a microwaveable heat pack at your work and home so you have access to one anytime. Heat it up (or ask a friend to help if needed) and apply it to the afflicted areas. The heat may help the muscles relax, particularly if they feel stiff. Conversely, some people find that cold packs actually help their TMD symptoms more. Cold is particularly helpful if inflammation is causing an issue, as it can quickly bring swelling down. Before you have a TMD flare, test out heat and cold on your jaw to see which one feels better to you. Then, you’ll know what to use when an attack happens.
Take ibuprofen if you can. If your doctor has given you the okay to take medications like ibuprofen, take a dose as directed. This can help with pain and inflammation. People with certain health conditions, such as ulcers, may not be able to take ibuprofen or similar pain relievers, so be sure they’re safe for you before taking them.
Think about the underlying trigger and address it. What was happening right before the attack happened? Were your allergies flaring up? Did you have a lot of stress? Did you eat a piece of chewy beef jerky? It’s important to know what caused it so you can avoid TMD flares in the future, and also to take care of the problem now. Take allergy medication or decongestants if that’s a problem. Or, find ways to manage stress with guided imagery or other methods.
With the fast pace of today’s world, who has time for a TMD attack? TMD flare-ups can be managed – and avoided – if you’re seeing a medical team that truly knows TMD. Contact MedCenter TMJ to find out how you can get jaw pain and other TMD symptoms under control.