11 exercises that may help in TMJ disorders include:
- Relaxed jaw exercise: The tongue is placed over the upper part of the mouth behind the upper front teeth. This helps relax the jaw muscles.
- Chin tucks: The chin should be tucked, creating a “double chin” and held for three seconds.
- Partial opening exercise: The tongue should be placed on the upper part of the mouth and one finger should be placed in front of the ear, over the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The index finger should be placed on the chin. After this, the jaw should be dropped halfway and closed, while gently applying pressure/resistance with the finger.
- Full opening exercise: The tongue should be placed on top of the mouth. One finger should be on TMJ and another finger over the chin. The lower jaw should be dropped completely and closed. For a variation of this exercise, place one finger on each TMJ as you completely drop your lower jaw and back.
- Resisted opening of the mouth: The thumb should be placed under the chin to create resistance while opening and closing the mouth slowly.
- Tongue up: The tongue should be on the top of the mouth while opening and closing the mouth.
- Resisted closing of the mouth: The chin should be gently squeezed between the index finger of one hand and thumb of the other.
- Side-to-side jaw movement exercise: An object of one-fourth-inch size should be placed between the front teeth, and the jaw should be moved side to side. The size of the object should be gradually increased.
- Forward jaw movement exercise: An object of one-fourth-inch size should be placed between the front teeth, and the bottom jaw should be moved forward. The size of the object should be gradually increased.
- Mandibular stabilization exercise: The jaw is maintained in a neutral position. The thumb is used to push the jaw to the right and hold for three seconds. The same is repeated on the left.
- Neck stretching exercise: Neck stretching exercises can help TMJ pain.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone and skull. It is situated just in front of the ears. TMJ moves while talking, chewing, and swallowing; hence, TMJ is essential for these functions to take place normally.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorders?
Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe and debilitating, such as:
- Pain while talking, chewing, or swallowing
- Pain in the ear, face, jaw, or neck
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds during jaw movements
- Locking of TMJ
Exercises for TMJ pain relief
Mechanism of action:
The exact mechanism of how temporomandibular joint (TMJ) exercises help in relieving pain is unknown. The following benefits of TMJ exercises could possibly help in pain relief:
- Strengthening of the muscles around the joint
- Stretching and relaxing the jaw
- Increased jaw mobility
- Increased range of mouth opening
- Promoting healing of the jaw
There are several exercises that can be done for TMJ disorders. There are no guidelines on the frequency of the exercises. Hence, it is advised to consult a doctor or dentist to analyze the type of exercise and frequency depending on the extent of TMJ disorders and to help design an exercise regimen. Overdoing exercises can lead to joint overuse, worsening inflammation, and pain. Most exercises can be done 6-10 times, two to three times a day.
Along with exercises, these additional home remedies and lifestyle changes may help relieve TMJ pain:
- Joint rest and limit large movements of the joint
- Avoid chewing hard foods
- Switch to a soft diet till the joint heals
- Avoid chewing gum or chewy sweets such as gummy bears
- Avoid biting of nails and pen/pencil tops
- Avoid constant biting of the lower lip
- Change posture by avoiding sleeping on the affected side or switching to a softer pillow
- Use mouth guards to realign the jaw and prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Use warm compress towels
- Apply ice to the affected ear for no longer than 15 minutes per hour
- Apply pain-relieving ointments containing painkillers such as diclofenac over the affected area
- Take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Perform stress-relief techniques help prevent jaw tension caused because of stress
- Acupuncture or acupressure may help relieve TMJ pain and pressure
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain reliever prescribed for the relief moderate to severe pain. Common side effects include vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and lightheadednes. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
naloxoneNaloxone is a life-saving medication used to rapidly reverse the effects of overdose of opioids such as heroin and morphine or for post-surgical reversal when opioids are used for pain relief (analgesia). Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremulousness, high or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension), rapid heart rate (tachycardia), ventricular tachycardia, rapid and irregular rhythm in the ventricles (ventricular fibrillation), seizures, respiratory depression, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), shortness of breath (dyspnea), slow heart rate (bradycardia), cardiac arrest, brain damage, and others.
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