The temporomandibular joint is commonly referred to as TMJ. The joint is a hinge that connects your skull and your jawbone. There is one joint on each side of your jaw making it possible to open and close your mouth.
TMJ disorders develop when there’s a problem with the joint and the muscles controlling jaw movement.
It can result from several things, including a jaw injury or grinding your teeth. But stress is also believed to affect the condition.
Does Stress Cause TMJ?
There is a link between TMJ disorders and stress. When a person is stressed, the emotion usually causes a physical response. For example, a common physical response to stress is grinding your teeth or tightening your jaw. And this action can cause you to overuse your jaw muscles and eventually develop a TMJ disorder.
You might start to experience jaw pain, or popping and clicking when you open and close your mouth. If you already have a disorder, then doing anything to aggravate your TMJ will worsen the situation.
Can TMJ Also Cause Stress?
The pain associated with TMJ disorders is in itself a cause of stress.
Common symptoms include painful chewing, aching around or in the ears, facial pain, and migraines.
Most people experience a great deal of stress when they’re in pain. And the level of stress is generally in accordance with the level of pain. So the higher the pain level, the higher the feelings of stress. As a result, the pain caused by TMJ disorders can lead to a high level of stress.
Some TMJ disorder symptoms are more unsettling than painful. For example, opening your mouth might cause a clicking or popping noise. You could also feel your jaw momentarily lock when you open your mouth. These events may not be painful, but they are unsettling enough to cause stress and worry.
Ways to Reduce Stress
Reducing stress is the best way to avoid stress-related TMJ problems.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, or self-hypnosis are worth trying. You can do both of these activities just about anywhere, and you don’t need special equipment. All you need is a time and a place to sit uninterrupted until you’re finished.
Physical activity can also reduce stress. When you’re feeling stressed, take a short walk around your neighborhood or in a park. Your backyard will also do if you don’t want to leave home.
In addition to walking, any daily physical activity can help decrease your stress levels. Bike riding, skating, aerobics, or yoga are just a few examples of activities that can help lower your stress.
Do you have symptoms of a TMJ disorder? Some common symptoms include migraines, facial pain, pops or clicks when opening the mouth, sore jaw, locking jaw, and pain in or around the ears.
Contact AZ-TMJ today for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. Treatment generally includes things such as self-care, therapy, medications, and medical devices. Surgery may also be an option, but that depends on the severity of your condition. Call Dr. Farrell for a consultation at 480-945-3629 today.