Many people that experience frequent headaches, bothersome clicking in the jaw, or pain in the face, neck or shoulders may be suffering from misalignment of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Shifting of the TMJ causes the teeth to move, not fitting together comfortably like they once did. Also, this condition causes stiffness in the jaw, which results in clicking, locking and popping of the joints. Listed below are a few tips that can help reduce pain from TMJ.
Slow, steady jaw exercises help increase jaw mobility and healing. Recommended by a physical therapist or health care provider, try these exercises:
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, opening your mouth wide with your tongue in place, and breathing in slowly for 3 counts, and out slowly for three.
- Apply one or two fingers against one side of the jaw, press gently into fingers and hold for 5-10 seconds. Release and repeat again.
- Sit in trunk flexion position (back bent) with forehead supported by forearm as the head rests on a table. Actively “nod” head, while maintaining the jaw in resting position.
- Once jaw is relaxed (loose jaw and mouth), hold chin between thumb and pointer finger. Very carefully, shake your chin back and forth. Do not attempt if causes pain.
When suffering from TMJ, try to avoid eating any hard, crunchy, and chewy foods for about a week. Temporarily, eat soft or blended foods because it will allow the jaw to rest. Try avoiding stretching your mouth to accommodate foods, instead cut them up. In addition, avoid jaw clenching and chewing gum.
Stress and teeth grinding are other factors that may lead to TMJ, causing headaches. Start methods for relaxation such participating in yoga classes, meditation and massages. Slow, deep breathing stimulates relaxation and improves pain sensation. To help relax the jaw, try relaxing the facial muscles by making an effort to relax your lips and keep the teeth apart.
While these exercises are easy to attempt at home, please don’t be afraid to ask if there are any uncertainty with symptoms. Call us for a physical therapy evaluation if symptoms do not resolve (352)404-6908. We treat patients in the Clermont 34711 area.