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Alternative Treatments for TMJ

Alternative Treatments for TMJ Alternative Treatments for TMJ Alternative Treatments for TMJ

The temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are the joints on either side of the head in front of the ears that connect the jawbone to the skull. The TMJs enable talking and chewing. Approximately 5 to 15 percent of people in the United States suffer from pain and discomfort in the TMJ, according to the National Institutes of Health. Patients and medical professionals refer to the symptoms associated with the temporomandibular joints as TMJ. TMJ is generally caused by degeneration or damage to the joint or cartilage. TMJ is not considered fatal and responds well to self-care. For those who prefer a more natural form of treatment, there are a number of alternative methods.

Relaxation Techniques

Many patients who experience elevated levels of stress suffer from TMJ. When stressed, these patients may grind their teeth, causing pain or stiffness. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation can help relieve physical symptoms of the patient's emotional stress.

Cool or Heat Treatments

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends using a combination of cool or heated treatments on the jaw. To use a cool treatment, place ice in a plastic bag and tie a knot in the top. Wrap the bag of ice in a clean, lightly saturated towel and apply to the jaw for five to 10 minutes. To perform a warm treatment, saturate a small towel and place it in the microwave until warm, not hot. Apply the towel to the jaw until the towel cools. Whether cool or warm, using a moist towel prevents irritation to the skin while the extra moisture increases flexibility in the joint.

Jaw Exercises

Patients suffering from TMJ should consult with their doctor about performing jaw exercises. Their physician or a physical therapist can recommend specific exercises to increase flexibility and ease the discomfort and stiffness in the jaw. These exercises usually involve gentle stretching, relaxing and massaging of the jaw joint. It is important for patients to follow the guidelines provided by a medical profession to prevent further damage to the jaw or skull joint.

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