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TMJ SYNDROME

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome or TMJ joint disorder is the term used to describe any medical problems related to the jaw joint. The lower jaw and the skull (temporal bone) under your ear are connected by the TMJ and chewing is controlled by certain facial muscles. Problems in this area can cause head and neck pain, a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open, problems biting, and popping sounds when you bite.

A person has 2 TMJ’s on each side of the jaw and each is made up of muscles, blood supplies, nerves, and bones. Muscles involved in chewing (mastication) also open and close the mouth. The TMJ controls the jawbone, which has 2 movements: The first is rotation or hinge action, which is opening and closing of the mouth. And the second is a gliding action which is a movement that allows a person to open the mouth wider.

When the mouth is opened, the rounded ends of the lower jaw (condyles) glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone and then slide back to their original position when the mouth is closed. A soft disc sits between the condyle and the temporal bone to keep this motion smooth by absorbing shock to the temporomandibular joint from chewing and other movements.

Some of the causes of TMJ disorders include:

Trauma- Trauma can be categorized as microtrauma, which is internal and macrotrauma, which is external. Bruxism (grinding the teeth) and clenching (jaw tightening) are good examples of microtrauma. Both involve continual hammering on the temporomandibular joint which can change the alignment of the teeth. The membranes surrounding the joint can become inflamed from muscle involvement. A punch to the jaw or impact in an accident which can break the jawbone or damage the disc are good examples of macrotrauma.

Bruxism – The habit of grinding the teeth can also result in muscle spasm and inflammatory reactions, resulting in pain. Any changes in the teeth or the chewing muscles may cause temporomandibular joint changes.

Clenching - Continually biting on things such as chewing gum, a pen or pencil, or fingernail can cause pain because of the constant pounding on the joint.

Osteoarthritis - The jaw joint, like other joints is prone to have arthritic changes, which are sometimes caused by breakdown of the joint (degeneration) or normal aging.

Rheumatoid arthritis – This form of arthritis causes inflammation and can cause destruction of cartilage and erode bone, deforming joints.

Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome include:

- Pain in the facial muscles and jaw joints that may radiate to the neck or shoulders.

- Ear pain

- Ringing in the Ears (tinnitus)

- Hearing Loss

- Sounds, such as clicking, grating, and/or popping when the joints move
.
- Swelling: Your face and mouth may swell on the affected side.

- The jaw may lock wide open (if dislocated), or it may not open fully

- Headache and Dizziness

- Nausea

The best way to truly figure out of you have TMJ syndrome is to perform a self-test. Simply place your pinky’s in your ears so that you can’t hear anything. Then slowly open & close your jaw. If you hear clicking, popping and/or grinding, chances are the joints are out of alignment and you should see your health care practitioner.

The regimen outlined below is recommended for people who wish to treat TMJ holistically:

The diet should consist of fruits, whole grain products, skinless poultry, brown rice and homemade soups and breads.

Foods containing sulfur, like asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions, will also be beneficial because sulfur is necessary for bone, cartilage and connective tissue repair.

Pineapple is an excellent source of bromelain, which is an inflammation-reducing enzyme and should be included in the diet.

Avoid all junk foods, sugars, white flour products, fast foods, junk foods and any foods or beverages containing caffeine.

Avoid alcoholic beverages, chewing gum and foods that need a lot of chewing like bagels and red meats.

Try to give the teeth and jaws a rest by fasting once a month.

Sleep on your back, rather than their sides or stomach. This rests the shoulder and neck muscles.

Some supplements you may include are:

Calcium (2,000 mg daily) & Magnesium ( 1,500 mg daily in chelated form) - Assists proper muscular function and calms bodily systems.

Chondroitin Sulfate (500 - 1,000 mg daily) with Glucosamine Sulfate (take as directed on label) - Strengthens joints, ligaments, and tendons.

MSM / Methylsulfonylmethane (500 - 1,000 mg daily) - A sulfur compound that can reduce inflammation and aid in joint and tissue repair.

SAMe S-Adenosylmethionine (400 twice a day) - Aids in reducing pain and inflammation. Deficiencies result in an inability to maintain cartilage properly. (Not to be used by those with bipolar disorder or anyone taking prescription antidepressants.)

Vitamin B-Complex (100 mg of each major B vitamin 3 times a day) - Anti-Stress vitamin.

L-Tyrosine (500 mg daily) - Improves sleep quality and helps relieve anxiety and depression. (Not to be taken with MAO inhibitors.)

Bromelain (take as directed on label) - An important enzyme that supports joint health and reduces inflammation.

Multivitamin Complex (take as directed on label) - Needed for balanced nutrition.

Coenzyme Q10 (60 mg daily) plus Coenzyme A (take as directed on label) - Improves oxygenation of affected tissues.

Boswellia - Aids in restoring blood vessels around inflamed tissue.

Nettle Leaf - Has anti-inflammatory properties.

 

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