Is TMJ pain getting you down?
Jaw and ear pain caused by TMJ disorders can be a major disruptor in your day, especially since you can’t predict when the pain is going to set in.
However, you can try to reduce and relieve the pain with a few simple exercises. Keep reading for quick TMJ exercises for pain relief that you can do anywhere.
What Is TMJ?
First, let’s define TMJ disorders. It stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction and is one of the leading causes of ear and jaw pain.
Your TMJ is a joint that connects your jaw to your skull and works as a hinge to open and close your mouth. For people with TMJ disorders, you can feel severe pain and discomfort and even experience a regular TMJ headache.
Pain isn’t the only indicator of a TMJ disorder. You may also have a clicking in your jaw, or your jaw could lock up from time to time. It may be hard for you to open your mouth widely without pain or jaw clicking.
Another symptom of TMJ disorders is trouble chewing foods that are too crunchy or chewy.
When TMJ pain strikes, it’s important to know how to relieve it quickly so you can go on with your day. Try a couple of these easy TMJ exercises for pain relief and see which ones work the best for you.
1. Facial Massage
A facial massage is an easy way to relieve TMJ pain. Start by heating your jaw with a warm washcloth or heating pad. Once it feels warm, use your fingers to massage in circular motions along your jawline.
Massage slowly and work up and down your jaw for several minutes. Reapply heat as needed and continue massaging until the pain is gone.
2. Relaxing Your Jaw
You’re likely clenching your jaw without realizing it throughout the day. This can put more pressure on your jaw and increase TMJ pain.
Practice relaxing your jaw by holding your tongue to the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth and opening and closing your mouth several times. Letting your jaw relax like this will relieve the tension you’re holding by clenching.
3. Jaw Resistance
Resistance exercises will improve jaw strength and make your TMJ easier to manage.
Start by placing your thumb under your chin. Apply pressure to add resistance as you slowly open your mouth. Hold for a couple of seconds before closing your mouth. As you close, keep the thumb on your chin and continue applying resistance.
4. Jaw Movements with a Tongue Depressor
You can use a tongue depressor to complete a few easy jaw movements that will increase jaw mobility and relieve TMJ pain. Place the tongue depressor between your teeth and slowly move your jaw from side to side.
Next, move your jaw forwards and backward so that your bottom teeth are in front of your top teeth. Repeat each motion slowly for a few minutes.
5. Goldfish Mouth Openings
There are two variations of the goldfish exercise you can try to reduce your TMJ pain. For the first one, practice a partial opening. Hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth and place one finger under your ear with the TMJ. With your other hand, place your pointer finger on your chin.
Practice partially opening and closing your mouth slowly a couple of times. Try the same exercise again but open your mouth fully.
6. Chin Exercise
A simple chin exercise can relax your jaw and quickly reduce your pain. Standing with a straight spine, tuck your chin into your neck. It should look like you are making a double chin. Hold for a few seconds before releasing, and repeat for a couple of minutes until your pain subsides.
7. Tongue Movement Exercises
Open your mouth as wide as you can without pain and touch your tongue to the roof. Next, slowly move your tongue back until you feel the soft spot on the roof of your mouth.
Then, stick your tongue out of your mouth as far as you can. Repeat this exercise in a circular motion a couple of times. Don’t try to go too fast; the slow movements will help reduce your pain quickly.
8. Open Up Exercise
Stretching out your jaw will release TMJ pressure, so try this stretching exercise. Just like before, open your mouth as wide as you can without pain. Then, place your hand on one side of your mouth and apply gentle pressure to your jaw.
Your jaw should shift sideways slightly. Hold it in this position for ten seconds before you release it. Repeat on the other side.
Other TMJ Treatment Options
If you experience regular TMJ discomfort that is severe and inhibits your daily life, seek professional help for TMJ pain relief. A chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, and osteopathic physician can all help you. They can perform jaw and skull massages that reduce your pain and help you manage your TMJ disorder.
Regular chiropractic adjustments are especially helpful for TMJ ear pain. Describe the pain to your provider and outline when and where you feel it the most so that they can focus the massage on your problem areas.
TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief
Having these TMJ exercises for pain relief in your back pocket will help you combat the discomfort and soothe your jaw as soon as you feel the pain set in.
The exercises will also help to strengthen, relax, and stretch the jaw so that you experience fewer TMJ issues moving forward.
If your pain is severe and ongoing, contact your professional healthcare provider for help. For more health tips and resources, check out the rest of the blog.