I just discovered an excellent new source of information about TMJ pain and dysfunction. It’s a really great website called Be My Healer offered by a doctor of physical therapy, Sophie Xie.
She’s got a couple of posts about TMJ issues. (If you have other issues, please look around. I am impressed with the quality of her posts in terms of credible information, writing to a lay audience, and her images. You go, Dr. Sophie Xie!)
First, this article helps distinguish between types and causes of TMJ dysfunction. In short:
- Type 1 is arthrogenous TMJ, meaning the problem is related to the functioning of the bony temporomandibular joint. There are two causes: arthritis and disc displacement. She recommends the best treatments for each cause. (I can’t help with these, but exercises* can help. If you’re in Austin and have disc displacement, I can refer you to a couple of oral surgeons who are getting great results.)
- Type 2 is myogenous, meaning muscle-related. Causes include bruxism (clenching and/or grinding), muscle imbalance (such as forward head posture, chewing on the same side, playing the violin), and systemic influence causing muscle tension (such as chronic stress, fibromyalgia, PMS).
Dr. Sophie Xie writes, “TMJ massage therapy can help by releasing the tense mastication muscle and provide pain and stress relief. However, you will need to call around to find a massage therapist who is specialized in intraoral release to receive the most targeted treatment.”
Here’s me raising my hand, signaling “Pick me!” I can help with all of the muscle-related types of TMD. I offer intra-oral work, help relieve forward-head posture, and help you relax from stress.
Again, exercises* can also help.
- Type 3 is idiopathic, referring to a single cause: trauma impacting the joint from accidents, injuries, dental treatments, even violent laughing or yawning.
Dr. Sophie Xie writes, “Post-traumatic TMJ pain is highly preventable. Early intervention such as physical therapy and massage therapy are excellent in preventing scar formation and muscle stiffness. Gentle and progressive jaw stretching and exercises* will build a strong muscle function to keep chronic and repetitive TMJ pain away.”
Again, I can help.
*In her post Say goodbye to TMJ pain with these 5 convenient jaw exercises, Dr. Sophie Xie describes and shows (with delightful illustrations) exercises to strengthen and balance your jaw muscles.
She writes, “Most people experience significant TMJ pain reduction with daily exercises after 5-6 weeks. You should experience even faster results if you are also combining TMJ massage therapy with a nightly mouth guard.”
Her website has a contact page if you want to work with her. (I believe she’s practicing in Washington state.)
If you are in Austin, Texas, I’m happy to help.