Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ, is a condition that causes the jaw to move to one side rather than rest squarely. TMJ brings with it a bevy of symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea, reduced jaw movement, back and neck pain and ringing in the ears. In addition, neck spasms are not uncommon for those with TMJ. Here are some things you can do to prevent neck spasms caused by TMJ.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Bite plate
- Moist heat
See your dentist regarding your TMJ. Even if your doctor has already diagnosed your TMJ, you should see him again regarding the neck spasms, particularly if they have worsened over time. Your symptoms and treatments should be monitored by your dentist regularly.
Talk to your dentist about getting a bite plate. This is a custom-made plate that will fit in your mouth, either on the lower or upper teeth, creating a flat surface against the opposing teeth. When you clench or grind your teeth, as many with TMJ do, the pressure will be distributed evenly across all the teeth and throughout the entire jaw. This helps to relieve intense pressure on a particular part of the mouth that may be leading to your neck spasms. While it's not a cure, since the pressure is still there, it does help to mitigate the symptoms.
Massage your jaw daily. This will help to relax the muscles in the area and alleviate tension that worsens the symptoms of TMJ. You can also schedule an appointment with a professional masseuse and inform her that you would like her to focus on your jaw and neck. There are even masseuses that specialise in TMJ massage which is designed to alleviate the pain and symptoms related to the condition.
Consume soft food and liquids for one to two weeks if you are experiencing frequent neck spasms. This will give your jaw a chance to rest for an extended period of time. Since the nerve endings in the jaw are connected to the neck, you'll experience less neck pain and spasms as a result of the rest.
Perform jaw exercises to relieve pain and encourage proper alignment. Attempt to keep your jaw aligned as you open and close your mouth. If you notice your jaw shifting toward one side, try to correct the misalignment. It helps to perform these exercises in front of a mirror.
Stretch your jaw and neck daily. Open your mouth as widely as you can several times. Tilt your head toward your right shoulder, stretching the left side of your neck. Repeat the neck stretch but this time stretch the right side of your neck.
Apply moist heat to your neck and jaw. This will relax the areas and increase circulation.
Maintain good posture throughout the day. Slouching and hunching can exacerbate neck spasms caused by TMJ. Protect your body with proper posture all day long.
Tips and warnings
- If you experience particularly intense or extended neck spasms, see a doctor immediately.
- TMJ is often linked to stress. Incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques into your daily life in an effort to minimise stress.
- Do not chew gum as it can worsen TMJ symptoms.