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TMJ Disorder: Exercises to Alleviate Pain

January 29, 2016

Man doing jaw exercises for tmj disorderThe name of our practice is Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, but for some of the patients who visit us, surgery isn’t the best option. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is actually a variety of dysfunctions of the TMJ, and there are numerous effective methods for treating TMJ disorders. In most cases, we are able to offer conservative, non-surgical treatment options for TMJ sufferers. We often partner with knowledgeable physical therapists to train patients to exercise their jaw muscles and joints in order to relieve pain and restore optimal function.

TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief

Physical therapists may recommend a number of exercises to return the TMJ to its full range of motion. Some of the exercises physical therapists may recommend include:

  • Jaw exercises – a range of jaw motion exercises may be recommended including light resistance exercises, biting exercises, and tongue thrusts.
  • Posture training – it may be surprising, but some patients experience TMJ pain due to poor posture. There are a number of posture transforming techniques that offer significant relief of TMJ pain and discomfort.
  • Mobilization of joints – using a compressible wedge (can be something as simple as a rolled or folded wash cloth), patient inserts and bites down gently holding the wedge in place for several seconds at a time. The mobilization exercise can be repeated with increasingly larger wedges as TMJ movement causes less discomfort.
  • Electrical stimulation – electrical stimulation of the jaw joints has proven effective in relieving pain especially during chewing.

Other TMJ Therapies

For patients who have not responded to exercise therapy, or those whose TMJ is more severe, we may recommend any combination of the following therapies:

  • Rest and heat application to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
  • Medications both over the counter pain relievers and muscle relaxers may be recommended
  • Splints and oral appliances may be beneficial to reset the positioning of the jaw for more comfortable resting set and mobility over time
  • Surgical treatments are a last recourse, but as expert oral surgeons in Houston, we offer a full range of surgical procedures including lysis & lavage, open joint reconstructive surgery, and condylotomy

Contact Your Houston Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

At Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, our goal is to help patients achieve optimal oral health, comfort, and motion utilizing the most conservative treatment options. If you’ve experienced neck, shoulder, or jaw pain, inability to open your mouth wide, or popping and grinding noises while the jaw is in motion, contact our team right away. We’re happy to examine your smile for signs of TMJ disorder, and provide a variety of treatment options to get a pain free smile back on your face.

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