Do you find that your face hurts, even when there’s no direct cause to explain it? There’s a possibility you might suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD) a painful disorder of the jawbone hinge, or the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your TMJ connects with your temporal bone, which is located on the lower side of your skull. In between the jawbone and skull there is a disc made of cartilage that is held in place by facial ligaments and muscles. That disc acts as a cushion to keep the bones from rubbing against each other when you move your jaw to talk, chew, swallow, or yawn. When the area is affected by pain or tenderness, it is suffering from a dysfunction that also involves the surrounding facial tissues.
There was a time I suffered from TMD and sleep apnea myself. A few years ago, I started having a lot of pain—headaches, neck and shoulder pain, teeth clenching, and trouble sleeping. I was doing anything I could to relieve the pain. There are some things that you can do that temporarily ease the pain, but that’s just what it is – temporary.
- Anesthetic – a common, but temporary treatment to assist with facial pain is having a shot of anesthetic in the jaw to ease pain.
- Massages – when I first experienced my head, neck and shoulder pain, I frequently got massages to help ease the pain and loosen the joints and muscles that were strained.
- Diet – TMJ can make chewing painful, especially foods that are chewy or hard. Consider adapting your diet to help ease the stress that occurs when you eat chewy, sticky and hard foods. Reach for softer, more pliable food options instead.
- TMJ/Sleep apnea appliances – A more permanent, but still simple solution can be found in orthodontic appliances. These customized inserts help align your bite/jaw so that it functions as it should, in the placement that it should.
Ultimately, you’ll want to see someone who specializes in craniofacial pain. It’s not something that you’ll be able to solve yourself. Trust me, I was there. Contact us today to hear more about what your options are for permanent relief.