3 Ways to Manage TMJ Pain

1. Treat TMJ Pain With Hot or Cold Compresses

TMJ is a disorder involving the jaw’s temporomandibular joint. If you have TMJ, you can feel pain in the joint itself as well headaches and facial pain. A popping, clicking or cracking noise in the joint when speaking, chewing or yawning is also a common symptom of TMJ. Applying a hot compress can help to relax your sore, tight jaw muscles and manage your pain if you suffer from TMJ.

To use a warm compress, run a washcloth under hot water and wring it out until it’s just damp. Be careful not to burn yourself as you put the compress on the area of your jaw and face that hurts. Intervals of 10 to 15 minutes are usually enough to provide some relief. Many TMJ sufferers use heat before doing jaw exercises or physical therapy to make sure the muscles are loose.

An ice pack can reduce any swelling that you may have as a result of your TMJ. Always wrap a cold pack in a light towel before applying it, and leave it in place for no more than 10 minutes at a time.

2. Jaw Exercises Can Help Reduce Pain

Easy exercises that gently stretch your jaw muscles can be an effective management tool for TMJ. Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth can lead to a lot of jaw pain, because the muscles tighten up and stay tight for long periods of time. Stretch your muscles by slowly opening your mouth as widely as you can without feeling pain. Very carefully, use your fingers on your lower teeth to push your mouth open a little more. If it starts to hurt, stop, but continue to challenge yourself a little bit at a time. Your muscles will relax and loosen up, which can decrease the pain significantly.

3. Take the Edge Off With Pain Relievers

If you don’t feel better with compresses or exercises, it’s perfectly acceptable to take the edge off TMJ pain with pain medications. Most people find relief with over-the-counter dosages, but if you don’t, speak to your doctor about a prescription-strength preparation. An anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen is usually used for TMJ, but may irritate your stomach if you use it on a long-term basis. If this is the case, try acetaminophen, which is gentler on your stomach.