Temporomandibular Joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) is a general term for dysfunction in the muscles of mastication (muscles that move the jaws) and the jaw joints which connect the jaw bones to the skull. This is a joint space with a tracking system. Symptoms may range from pain and tenderness in the general areas of the jaws-ears-inner ear canal, inflammation of the joint space, overly tightened muscles, tracking problems and limited range of movement in the jaws including inability to touch the teeth together (may include noises such as clicking, grating, and popping), headaches, facial pain, diminished hearing of sounds, dizziness, ringing in the ears, among other unpleasant symptoms.
Causes are often unknown, though tracking and structural issues (occlusion), jaw functioning overuse, degenerative joint disease, emotional stress and clenching of tightening of the jaws (anxiety-tension-pain cycle), bruxism (clenching as a habit, especially during sleep), trauma to areas affecting the cranial-facial-neck muscles, among many other conditions that can set off this pattern.
There are many treatments for TMJ, including those that involve medical and dental interventions. Dr. Allen can provide treatments for TMJ conditions targeting the psychological and behavioral patterns that may contribute to TMJ episodes. These strategies may include stress management, wellness strategies for breaking the cycle of TMJ, cranial-facial-neck and shoulder muscle tension awareness and resolve through muscle biofeedback, complete muscle relaxation, other biofeedback and strategies that help restore a steady state of relaxed wellness, nighttime strategies for alleviating bruxing patterns, and self-hypnosis – guided imagery strategies for changing patterns of behavior such as clenching and tightening of various muscles involved in TMJ episodes.
Also see Dr. Allen’s headache treatment programs.