Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (often called TMJ disorders) are conditions that affect the jaw and chewing muscles. While it is not entirely understood why, TMJ and fibromyalgia pain are often related, with many fibromyalgia patients experiencing the symptoms of TMJ disorders.
TMJ and fibromyalgia
TMJ disorder symptoms include:
- Pain in the face, jaw, and neck
- Muscle stiffness around the jaw
- Discomfort or pain while chewing
- A limited range of motion in the jaw, with possible locking
- An audible clicking, popping, or grinding sound when the jaw is opened or closed
- Teeth that don’t fit together properly
The Fibromyalgia Network indicates that 25% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ). The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research does not provide an estimate of fibromyalgia patients with the condition, however, they note that:
“Some people have other health problems that co-exist with TMJ disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances, or fibromyalgia, a painful condition that affects muscles and other soft tissues throughout the body. These disorders share some common symptoms, which suggests that they may share similar underlying mechanisms of disease. However, it is not known whether they have a common cause.”
Treating TMJ and fibromyalgia
If you suffer from TMJ and fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about strategies to reduce the pain. It can be difficult to treat TMJ pain, though, as more aggressive treatments are often controversial and may include surgery or orthodontics options.
Therefore, it’s also important to consider some at-home practices if you have TMJ and fibromyalgia. Preventative strategies have actually been shown to be effective at relieving TMJ pain and preventing future occurrences of pain.
At-home strategies include:
- Using moist heat, such as a warm moist towel, for periods of 5-10 minutes to relax and loosen the jaw muscles
- Applying ice packs to the area to decrease inflammation
- Practicing jaw stretching exercises to relieve tension–talk to your doctor about the best exercises for your condition
- Incorporating relaxation techniques into your day-to-day activities to avoid the build-up of tension that can lead to TMJ pain
- Eating soft or blended foods, especially when the pain is severe
- Avoiding chewing gum
- Becoming mindful of tension held in your jaw and trying to relax your facial muscles during the day
Do you suffer from TMJ and fibromyalgia? Have you attempted any at-home remedies to treat your symptoms?