TMJ pain can be quite debilitating. In many cases, taking a dose of a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, should ease the pain enough to allow you to chew and speak comfortably. But what should you do when pain relievers aren't working? It's time to seek a more permanent solution to your TMJ pain. Here's a look at some common, effective options.
TMJ pain is usually caused, at least in part, by a misalignment of the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. If the bones that form the joint are just slightly out of place, they put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the joint, leading to inflammation and pain.
Your chiropractor can adjust your TMJ, putting the bones back into their proper place. This should ease tension on the soft tissues, leading to a decrease in pain. Note that this won't happen overnight. Initially, the inflammation and tight tissues will slowly pull your TMJ back out of alignment. Your chiropractor will then need to put it back into place — again. After each treatment, however, the symptoms should grow less and less pronounced.
The advantage to chiropractic care is that it is safe and natural. It's also a permanent solution that gets at the cause of the pain rather than just camouflaging the pain temporarily.
Dental Care With a Mouthguard
Some patients with TMJ pain grind their teeth or clench their jaw at night. This grinding and clenching is essentially what causes their TMJ pain, as it irritates the soft tissues near this joint. If you can break the grinding and clenching habit, your TMJ will slowly heal and the pain will subside.
Of course, you don't have a lot of control over what you do when you're asleep, so simply willing yourself to stop grinding your teeth won't work. Instead, your dentist will need to fit you with a mouthguard to prevent you from grinding your teeth. Wearing the guard to bed may seem a bit strange and uncomfortable at first, but you'll soon adapt. Do not substitute a sports-style mouthguard from the pharmacy — this type is not intended for long-term use and may cause damage to your teeth.
You may have to experiment with both of the options above in order to see which works better for you. In either case, however, you'll be permanently addressing your TMJ pain rather than just masking its symptoms, so you should eventually rid yourself of the pain completely and erase the need for painkillers. For more information, contact local professionals like Stroud Chiropractic Clinic.