May 24, 2023 – Toothache at its worst. It seems to be ubiquitous and can interfere with diet and daily activities. But what happens when the pain isn’t necessarily in your teeth, but around your face, jaw and neck?
Shane G., 40, Finance Manager, Austin, Texas, Painfully aware of the distinction. One day, after a meeting in his office that he described as stressful, he decided to head to a bar with his laptop and play basketball with a beer to wrap up.
“I took a sip of beer and the corner of my mouth was on fire,” he said. explain. “It was sharp, intense pain with heat; clearly something was wrong.”
The type of pain Shane feels is commonly referred to as orofacial pain and includes over 30 types of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) – Affects the two joints that connect the jaw to the skull (the temporomandibular joint), as well as the jaw muscles and tissues.
About 5% to 12% of Americans have TMD. Because they are difficult to diagnose and can overlap with other disorders, patients often begin a seemingly never-ending process of seeking relief.
Luckily for Shane and others like him, there is some ego Oriented strategies can help ease the pain.
He was able to make an emergency appointment with a knowledgeable dentist who suspected the problem was his jaw muscle. After x-rays were taken and night guards measured for possible bruxism and clenching problems, Shane was referred to a massage therapist. Not only did she find the source of his pain, but he was also able to find some level of relief after just one session.
Not everyone is so lucky.
has “Practitioners are just not familiar with the diagnosis and are triggered too quickly to provide Irreversible treatment,” said DDS Clifford Chow, an oral pain specialist at the Center for Oral Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine and an associate professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry.
“Unfortunately, over time, the situation may Things change, things change and they get worse and harder to treat,” he said.
Although they are not uncommon, orofacial pain disorders are often missed
or be mistaken for other conditions by dentists and doctors. TMD often occurs with other conditions such as Fibromyalgia and Migraine , making diagnosis more difficult.
“In the field of dentistry, we have this saying: If you hear the sound of hooves , think horses, not zebras,” says Lisa Crafton, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Columbia, Maryland.
For “most people with facial pain, mostly muscular, ’ she explained. “And I think most people feel that way after a period of stress. Or for some, maybe 2 weeks after a stressful event, and all of a sudden, their jaws are going to die.”
“If you think about the skull, the jaw is held in place by the muscles,” Crafton said . “So, I always think first, well, let’s try muscle relaxation.”
Massage can often help with pain associated with the two most common types of TMD: Fascial pain (discomfort or pain in the connective tissue and muscles that control the jaw, neck, and shoulders) and myalgia (muscle pain related to jaw movement—for example, in the masticatory muscles that allow you to chew food).
Pudhorodsky explained that TMD pain occurs in many ways and is often Meaning it hurts in areas other than the exact location of the jaw muscles, joints and tissues. Symptoms include headache, neck pain or stiffness, toothache, sinus pain, fullness in the ears, ringing in the ears (ringing in the ears), numbness and/or tingling.
It has been a general experience that most of the patients Pudhorodsky sees in her practice All are looking for relief.
- “Pillar one is Relaxes the muscles and reduces trigger points. This is done with massage and stretching,” she explains. “This can be done by a professional or by yourself at home.
Pillar two is to retrain muscles that are not involved; these exercises are also used to stabilize the bite.The third pillar is to maintain the correct oral rest posture. “That is to look at the correct oral rest posture. We want our tongues to come up against the palate, with lips together and teeth slightly apart,” Pudhorodsky said.
- and “The fourth pillar is to solve bad usage habits ; this is when you start to stop letting those bad patterns continue. “
Like other pain conditions, TMD is complex and manifests differently in different patients. Massage is not the answer for every type or everyone. But by releasing tight muscles and retraining joints to move in a more balanced way, Massage can help resolve part of the problem, reduce pain, and, as Pudhorodsky explains, “make room for healing.”
Chow said patients should be proactive and ask the people treating them what their diagnosis is.
“If they just say they have TMD, that’s not a diagnosis; it’s a broad term for a disease diseases of these things,” he said. “They have to be more specific in diagnosis and treatment. “
” They brought up the topic with their dentist Or their medical provider says they have pain, and they get ducked. They go from specialist to specialist until someone says, ‘Hey, these muscles are tight; maybe that’s part of the puzzle,'” she said.
Nataly S., a 32-year-old researcher from Austin, said she landed in Pudhorodsky’s office During the day, she suddenly experienced jaw pain and what she called a “jaw click.” “I’m going through a period of particularly emotional stress,” she said, reflecting on the experience. “I went to my dentist and he advised me to wear a mouthguard. But he also asked what my symptoms were, how long they lasted and said I would benefit from a massage specifically targeting the temporomandibular joint “
Nataly was relieved after a session with Pudhorodsky and continued Work out twice a day.
“By the end of the week, the pain was gone,” Nataly said.
Four Pillars of Relief
Pudhorodsky sees in person, but also provides detailed education and online practice . Much of her work is aimed at helping people achieve and maintain muscle relaxation and is based on four pillars: