Holistic Home remedies and natural cures for treatment of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain and its allied symptoms
The mandible is the toughest and biggest bone of the face and it serves to support the lower teeth. The joints of the mandible are the only joints in the body which move on a hard tissue.
When the jaw is misaligned as a result of trauma, malocclusion (bad bite) or otherwise, it is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
Symptoms of TMJ
1) Circular Headache: One of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a headache similar to one that would be felt when a cloth would be tightly tied on the head for a long period of time. Many people who suffer from a headache due to TMJ describe it as a ring of pain around the head. The pain increases every time a TMJ sufferer speaks or grinds his teeth.
The constant contraction of the muscles of the mandibles creates a stress and strain in the face, head and neck. This muscular contraction reduces the amount of blood in the head. The body responds by sending more blood this region which increases the blood pressure in the head region which gives a headache.
2) Depression and anxiety: Any pain can be frustrating and when it’s a chronic pain, refusing to die, depression and anxiety are but natural. Depression usually occurs when patients can not get relief from the pain because of poor diagnosis of symptoms.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ is primarily caused by:
- External Trauma like a blow on the jaws due to accidents or otherwise.
- Internal trauma: from excessive chewing, teeth clenching or grinding (Bruxism)
- Mental trauma, stress or anxiety
- Osteoarthritis: depletion of cartilage and no formation of new bone due to aging
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Birth defect – Muscular alignment issues
- Nutritional deficiencies (especially of Calcium and Magnesium)
- Spinal alignment issues
Allopathic cure for TMJ
In many cases of TMJ , it has been found that doctors often keep looking for local causes of pain and fail to diagnose the exact cause. The result – patient often fail to respond to treatment, whereby the frustration, and anxiety increases.
For an effective cure, it is important to correctly diagnose the cause. Once diagnosed, proper treatment can provide psychological and physical relief.
Pain caused by muscular contraction can be temporarily relieved with medication, exercises or psychological therapy. But the root cause of disease (i;e malocclusion dislocation) still persists.
Alternatively doctors prescribe surgery of blood vessels in the brain to realign temporomandibular joints in an optimal position. This neuromuscular dentistry surgery mostly provides relief from chronic pain.
However, surgery is expensive and not without post-surgical complications.
Some patients may need consult a chiropractor or other doctors to treat other allied symptoms of TMJ.
Home remedies and natural cures for TMJ
While taking antibiotics and pain killers help alleviating TMJ pain, they are usually short-lived and have negative side effects.
Home remedies for TMJ are of vital importance in allaying and getting rid of root cause of TMJ. The natural home remedies mentioned below are very useful in relieving TMJ symptoms like muscular pain, headache and anxiety.
A holistic TMJ therapy should comprise of a four pronged attack:
- Jaw exercises for TMJ treatment
- Relaxation exercises to reduce pain inducing stress.
- Eating habit changes to addressing nutritional deficiencies that aggravate TMJ
- Lifestyle Changes to alleviate pain and cure TMJ
1) Jaw exercises for TMJ
Jaw Exercise #1 Open your mouth as wide as you can without feeling any pain. With mouth wide open, move your jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Return to middle. Move your jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Return your jaw to center and close your mouth. Repeat 4-5 times.
Jaw Exercise #2 Using your right hand index finger; trace the jaw hinge on your right side. Gently massage the muscles with a downward action of your finger. Repeat the action on your left side with left index finger.
Jaw Exercise #3 Open your mouth as wide as you can without feeling any pain. With mouth wide open, move the tip of your tongue upwards to touch the roof of the mouth. While your tongue keeps touching the roof, try to move the tongue tip in backward direction (toward your tonsils) Hold for 5 seconds. Now pull your tongue out of your mouth and stretch it to the maximum you can. Hold on for 5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
Jaw Exercise #4 Sit erect and move your chin up and down for around a minute. Stop and then move your chin in a side to side movement for another minute. Repeat twice. Do not stretch too hard or you may sprain your neck.
Jaw Exercise # 5 Stand in front of a mirror, support your chin with both hands and open your jaws wide. With mouth wide open, touch the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue. While you keep touching the roof with your tongue tip, do a slow up and down movement of your jaws at the same time providing slight resistance with your hands every time you open your jaws. Do it for around a minute in each session and repeat it up to thrice a day
Jaw Exercise # 6 Yawn as widely as you can without hurting yourself. Then yawn twice more but this time only opening your mouth only half as wide. Repeat twice.
2) Relaxation exercises to reduce TMJ pain
Stressful living is a major cause of TMJ. Exercises that relax the spinal chord and the nervous system are very beneficial home remedy for TMJ.
Relaxation exercises #1: Exercise for Spines: Sit erect and bend your head forward so that the chin touches your chest. Interlock fingers of both your hands and place it behind your head. Push your head back while your hands resist this backward movement. Don’t press too hard. Repeat this 3-5 times twice a day to relax your entire spinal chord. This exercise is a very effective home remedy for TMJ pain.
Relaxation exercises #2: Sit erect and open your mouth in a relaxed manner. Bend your head back to point your forehead to the sky. Take in a deep breath and slowly exhale. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Relaxation exercises #3: Deep Breathing exercise: Lie down on your back. Place your left hand on your stomach and right hand on your chest. Relax normally for some times. Next, take deep breaths and feel the air pass through your trachea deep down up to your belly. Slowly exhale. Repeat this 10-20 times during one sitting.
Other than these three exercises, you can practice any relaxation exercise that you enjoy and gets your blood pumping. It could be a simple thing like walking, jogging, cycling or playing tennis. Yoga and mediation exercises are also great to induce relaxation. Regular exercising is a great way to beat stress and reduce the allied symptoms of TMJ.
3) Changes in Eating Habits to remove nutritional deficiencies that aggravate TMJ
Keep your body hydrated: Dehydration causes muscle cramps in neck, shoulders and mandibular joints. It is therefore very important to keep the body properly hydrated. Not drinking enough water is one of the main causes of TMJ related cramps. Increase water intake to a minimum of 8 glasses (150 ounces) a day or higher. Evenly distribute water intake over the entire day. Intake of excess water in short period of time can cause
hyper hydration or water poisoning A good thumb rule is to drink at least two glasses of water every 2 hours during the day time.
Nutrition plays a vital role in alleviating TMJ pain. In a study conducted on 280 TMJ sufferers, it was found that round 249 had a nutritional deficiency of calcium and magnesium.
Another study conducted by International Dental Association on 50 TMJ sufferer shows that adding calcium and magnesium supplements to food provided relief from TMJ pain to 70% of the participants.
Calcium provides strength to the bones while magnesium relives muscular tension.
An average adult requires a daily magnesium intake of 310mg. Normal staple food often fails to supply this quantity. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, Magnesium also helps in calcium metabolism which help prevent other TMJ related diseases like osteoporosis.
Magnesium rich food effective in allaying TMJ pain: Almonds, Avocados, Black-eyed Peas, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Cocoa Powder (Dark Chocolate), Corn (White or Yellow), Dry Roasted Peanuts, Flax, Low Fat Yogurt, Molasses, Oat, Oatmeal, Pumpkin, Rice, Roasted Soybeans, Sesame Butter, Sesame Seeds, Spinach,Squash, Sunflower seeds, Watermelon Seeds, Wheat, Whole Milk and Walnuts.
Calcium rich food effective in allaying TMJ pain: An average adult needs a daily intake of round 10 grams of calcium. Calcium rich food helpful in curing TMJ are unboiled milk, unpolished rice, wheat flour with husk, banana, coconut, sesame, oranges, almond, groundnut, green peas, cabbage and spinach.
If you rid your body of junk food and replace them with fresh fruit, grains, nuts, and vegetables, you’ll definitely notice alleviation in TMJ pain and other allied symptoms.
Other nutritional supplements for treatment of TMJ:
Vitamin B complex: A deficiency of Vitamin B is known to induce stress which can result in TMJ pain. Take Vitamin B-Complex capsules for around 15 days to address any possible Vitamin B deficiency.
Glucosamine Sulfate: This is another vital mineral that builds and repairs our body cartilage and relieves pain, stiffness and swelling in joint disorders like TMJ, rheumatism, osteoarthritis and several other joint disorders. Glucosamine Sulfate can be a very effective if TMJ is characterized by cartilage deterioration. However glucosamine sulfate has some negative side effects and it is advisable to take it under the guidance of experienced doctors.
Ginko Biloba is one of the richest sources of Glucosamine Sulfate in natural form. Raw parsley and spinach are other natural sources of glucosamine.
4) Lifestyle Changes to alleviate pain and cure TMJ
Change defective sitting posture habits: Wrong sitting posture is a major cause of TMJ pain. Make a habit of sitting as erect as you can. If you are one of those whose job requires long hours of sitting, ensure that you use a chair with correct lumbar support. Take short intermittent breaks to stretch and relax your spines. Habits are hard to change but get back to correct posture, every time you notice yourself slouching on the desk.
Hot massage: Hot massage is an effective muscle relaxant. Massage jaw, neck, and shoulders with heating pad or hot-water bottle for relief from TMJ pain.
Cold Packs: Applying cold packs on the jaw and neck helps relieve pain and allied symptoms of TMJ. For applying cold pack, fill a plastic zipper bag with ice and cover it with a towel. Place this towel on the affected jaws and neck for as long as you feel comfortable. An alternating heat and cold massage is also very effective in providing relief from TMJ pain.
Plain body massage: Plain body massage with sandalwood, juniper, bergamot, tea tree or other essential oils helps improve blood
circulation and provides relief from pain associated with TMJ
Reassess those pills: Many antibiotic or contraceptive pills reduce immunity and increase muscular strain which can
aggravate TMJ pain. Discuss all pills that you may be using with your doctor for their possible TMJ related implications.
Herbal remedies for TMJ treatment
Several herbs have been found to be very effective in treatment of TMJ. The most commonly used herbs include:
- Rhus Toxicodendron: To loosen stiff jaw
- Valerian officinalis: To relax muscular tension
- Magnesia Phosphorica: Antispasmodic and eases stiff muscles.
- Kava: To relax nervous system
- Kali Phosphorica: To reduce nerve pain.
- Methylsulfonylmethane: To reduce inflammation and alleviate muscular spasm
Extract of these herbs can be massaged on the jaws to provide relief from TMJ related pain.
Other recommendations for natural treatment of TMJ
- Increase general intake of fruits and vegetables in your diet. A liberal intake of fruits is a beneficial in treatment of TMJ and its allied symptoms.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking is known to aggravate TMJ pain
- Avoid eating chewing gums. Chewing gums do not exercise your jaws. On the contrary that can be a major cause of internal trauma which could result in aggravating symptoms of TMJ.
- Reassess your sleeping pillows. Sleeping on cervical pillows is a helpful in cure and treatment of TMJ.
- Fasting on an all-fruit diet help clear the body of toxic radicals that cause muscular stiffness and is recommended.
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