Jaw pain and Stress (Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction)
Stress plays a major role for many of our patients. The effects of stress tend to intensify the pain of most musculoskeletal conditions. In recent months, we have seen a sharp increase of complaints related to teeth grinding or clenching (jaw pain or Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction also known as TMD). These complaints are about headaches, face pain, unrelenting stiffness in the neck, upper back and even the muscles of the face. The neurology of the jaw and neck are closely integrated, a problem with one can often produce symptoms in the other and vice versa.
Some common symptoms of Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction are:
Awaking with a sore jaw or headache, Experiencing jaw fatigue while chewing, and Persistent neck or upper back stiffness or pain.
The grinding typically happens mostly at night while sleeping but, it can also happen during the day. Both are a subconscious behavior related to stress, dental alignment and posture. The body is adapted to deal with this problem if it is of a short duration. When it continues for longer periods it has increasingly painful effects on the body. Interestingly, many patients have had a prior episode and received a night splint from their dentist. It is still possible to have these symptoms but generally the splint helps moderate them and that makes our job easier. Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction can develop into a painful pattern that requires treatment to correct.
A Stitch in time…
Timely intervention prevents these problems from progressing. The majority of TMD problems we see in our office are completely reversible. Utilizing soft tissue mobilization techniques (Graston Technique, Active Release Technique) is our first choice. I use these techniques to relax and balance the muscles of the jaw. In addition, correcting problems in the neck and upper back produces rapid results.
It’s very common for patients to be unaware that that they have Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction (TMD). They are also surprised that we can help with jaw problems. If these types of symptoms are affecting you or someone you care about please feel free to contact us for a no-cost consultation to see if we can help you resolve this difficult condition.