Depending on the cause of your TMJ disorder, different forms of professional therapy may be of help to relieve jaw symptoms and other TMJ complaints. Several TMJ therapies are offered and are tailored to your specific etiology.
As the muscles around the jaw become inflamed, they can develop muscle spasm as well as trigger points. Trigger points are where small spots of either tendon attachments or ligament attachments become inflamed and result in pain. Various types of therapy may be of benefit in these instances. For example, muscle therapy and cranial therapy can help relax muscular structures throughout the head and neck. Similarly, myofascial release and osteopathic manipulation can help realign spinal and muscular structures while reducing spasm and tension. Each of these interventions for TMJ can help not only alleviate symptoms, but also promote healing through more normal structure and function.
Therapies for TMJ that are a little more interventional and less manipulative include trigger point injections , transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) , and acupuncture . Trigger point injections help resolve trigger point pains in associated jaw muscles, and is particularly helpful in TMJ disorders associated with fibromyalgia. TENS units are devices that transmit a very low electrical impulse repetitively. By doing this, it influences pain pathways resulting in better comfort, and also promotes a reduction in muscle spasm and inflammation. Acupuncture similarly reduces spasm and pain, and may help regulate pain through the body’s own natural pain-relieving system.
Lastly, occlusive therapy can be given to patients with TMJ that have dental problems. This may include those with mild under-bites, mild over-bites, or other issues of dental misalignment. By teaching correct alignment and chewing techniques, jaw positioning can improve and result in beneficial effects in TMJ complaints and subsequent flare-ups. These therapies for TMJ can make a significant impact and prevent the need for more aggressive treatments.