TMJ Dysfunction: Jaw Pain Therapy in NYC

December 4, 2014


Across America, over 10 million people suffer from TMJ dysfunction (or TMD), resulting in sharp pain and discomfort not only in the jaw area but also in the ears, neck, throat, eyes, head, and mouth.

It’s a big problem that affects people both young and old. According to clinical research, however, it seems that TMD signs and symptoms are more frequent in women than men.

Patients with TMD can experience debilitating symptoms that can ruin quality of life and impair productivity, such as headaches, earaches, temporal muscle pain, limited mouth movement, and more.

Even things as simple as talking, chewing, and yawning can be impossible for a person with TMD. These signs and symptoms can have negative side effects on a person’s mental health and may also lead to unintended weight loss caused by difficulty eating.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat and even cure TMD. The chances of reversing the pain depend on the type, cause, and severity of the ailment, as well as risk factors like age, overall health, and activity, so everyone’s experience is different.

Below, we explain the most common symptoms associated with TMD and the treatment methods our specialists use to get our patients on the road to recovery.

What is TMJ & TMD?

TMJ is an abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, which is a hinge that connects the lower jaw to the bones of the skull and is one of the most complex joints in the human body. 

Similarly, TMD is an abbreviation for temporomandibular disorder, which is a general term for medical complications in the joint or muscles controlling the jaw.

People often refer to TMD as TMJ, which is technically incorrect, since TMJ is merely a part of the body and not an actual ailment. But people interchange between these terms often enough that TMD and TMJ have become virtually synonymous.

Today, either term can be used to describe any pain or dysfunction of the jaw as well as discomfort in the neck and shoulder area.

Jaw Pain Treatment in NYC

Integrative Spine & Sports provides treatment for jaw pain in Manhattan, NY at our Upper West Side practice dedicated to spine and sports medicine.

We treat the source of acute and chronic jaw pain, inflammation and disability caused by injury and biological abnormality, as well as the most common cause of jaw pain in NYC – overuse and repetitive strain.

We offer a number of non-surgical treatment options for treating TMD that can restore balance and release unnecessary tension in the jaw.

Specific exercises will focus on relaxation techniques and realignment, all while strengthening the overused muscles of the neck, shoulders, and jaw.

Our holistic and integrative approach to treatment may include:

  • Chiropractic techniques
  • Conservative and proven medical procedures
  • Physical therapy modalities
  • State-of-the-art technologies
  • Therapeutic exercise regimens

Our jaw pain specialists in Manhattan create custom treatments designed to meet the needs of people suffering from acute pain due to injury, as well as those experiencing chronic conditions affecting the jaw area.

Along with our specialists, patients can reverse the negative practices that commonly cause TMD and eliminate unnecessary pain by focusing on proper function, active relaxation and establishing enduring, healthy habits.

Our team, consisting of a board-certified physiatrist, chiropractors, and physical therapists, offers comprehensive treatment for acute and chronic jaw pain treatment in NYC.

We use a holistic approach focused on:

  • Alleviating pain
  • Restoring function
  • Promoting healing

We do all this while equipping patients with the information they need to prevent future injury and pain.

Book an appointment

For those who live or work in the NYC area, relief from jaw pain and discomfort is just a phone call away.

To get in touch, schedule an appointment now or call us at 212-362-4742.

We also offer Telehealth appointments, where you can book an assessment from the comfort of your home. To book a Telehealth appointment, click here.

What are the symptoms of TMD?

The TMJ is a joint, which means that its main function is to allow movement of the jaw, specifically opening and closing. So, if a person’s jaw movement is restricted in any way or there is noticeable pain in the area, TMJ dysfunction could be the culprit.

The symptoms of TMD can be as varied as the sources. Here are the most common:

  • General, radiating muscular pain in the neck, face, or jaw.
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • “Popping”, “clicking”, or “grating” when opening or closing the mouth
  • Limited movement or, in some severe cases, “locking” of the jaw in an open or closed position
  • Swelling in the jaw area
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
  • Uncontrollable jaw/tongue movements

If any of these symptoms occur, get professional medical help to alleviate the pain.

Some symptoms are less common but deserve just as much attention, such as:

  • Headache (e.g., forehead, temples, migraine-type, sinus-type, shooting pain up the back of the head, hair and scalp painful to touch)
  • Earache (e.g., hissing, buzzing, ringing, decreased hearing, “itchy” ears)
  • Neck pain, immobility, or stiffness
  • Laryngitis, sore throat without infection, voice irregularities, frequent coughing, constant clearing of the throat, or constantly feeling foreign objects in the throat
  • Pain behind the eyes, bloodshot eyes, bulging eyes, or sunlight-sensitivity
  • Discomfort in mouth/teeth, looseness and soreness of back teeth, jaw deviation to one side upon opening
  • Dizziness

What are the causes of jaw pain?

Movement of the TMJ involves multiple muscles and intricate soft tissue functions, which work in concert to articulate our lips, mouth, tongue, face, neck, and shoulders. As a result, the source of jaw pain can sometimes be elusive and difficult to diagnose.

One common cause of TMJ is the grinding and/or clenching of the teeth. Additional sources of dysfunction can be attributed to stress, depression, teeth alignment, and simply poor posture of the head, shoulders, or neck.

Causes of TMD or jaw pain:

  • Grinding or clenching teeth (puts a lot of pressure on the joint)
  • Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Stress (causes the teeth to clench and the facial and jaw muscles to tighten)
  • Depression or anxiety (from increased activity in the jaw muscles, leading to inflammation and pain)

Jaw Pain and TMD FAQs

Frequently asked questions from our patients about jaw pain and TMD.

Does Coronavirus (COVID-19) cause TMD?

Some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 are “aches and pains”. Some patients do experience jaw pain. But this isn’t very common. COVID-19 can have side effects on a patient’s mental health, such as stress and anxiety, both of which can increase jaw activity and lead to jaw pain. Symptoms to watch out for are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. If the jaw pain gets worse or persists for longer than 2 weeks, get immediate medical help.

How do you cure TMJ permanently?

Some cases of TMJ disappear eventually, but there are also methods for curing TMJ permanently. Some of these methods include custom splints made to fit over the upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding, physical therapy to strengthen the joint and muscles and improve mobility, and, in severe cases, surgery. Common surgery methods performed for treating TMJ are arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery.

What can I do to relieve my jaw pain?

To relieve jaw pain, doing some gentle jaw stretches can help. It’s best to do these stretches once swelling (if any) subsides. Heat therapy and cold therapy can also work well for pain relief. If the patient’s jaw pain is a result of habitual clenching or grinding, practice mindfulness to strengthen awareness of these harmful habits.

What is a natural remedy for hand or wrist pain?

Natural remedies for acute jaw pain are rest, ice, heat, and gentle stretching. Some people recover completely by just resting, but it’s possible to speed up the process by applying ice and heat to the affected area. If these don’t work after 2 weeks, or if the pain worsens, seek immediate medical assistance.

How do I know if my hand or wrist pain is serious?

Most cases of jaw pain (which are often results of sprains/strains) subside naturally after a period of 2 days to 2 weeks. However, if the pain gets worse or persists after the 2-week mark, seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes, jaw pain is merely a symptom of a more serious or underlying condition, so pay attention to other symptoms that accompany the pain.

How long does TMJ/jaw pain last?

How long a person’s TMJ or jaw pain lasts depends entirely on the person and the cause. For some people, the pain is temporary and goes away on its own. Others, however, may experience chronic TMJ which can be debilitating. In some cases, patients are unable to even talk because of how painful it is to open their jaws. Over-the-counter medication can help alleviate the pain temporarily, but, in serious cases such as these, immediate medical attention is required. Home remedies like gentle jaw stretches, heat therapy, and cold therapy help alleviate the pain, but we recommend consulting a physiatrist for faster results.

Does acupuncture cure jaw pain?

Acupuncture provides long-term relief for both acute and chronic jaw pain such as in conditions like TMJ. It helps relieve jaw pain by reducing inflammation. By stimulating the various acupuncture points associated with jaw pain, parts of the nervous system are also stimulated, which can help provide pain relief. Because of its low-risk, low-side effect nature of treatment, acupuncture is something patients should consider before having more invasive procedures like surgery.

What causes jaw pain without injury?

Sometimes, injury can be invisible, like what happens in cases of jaw osteoarthritis. Conditions like these are caused by wear-and-tear resulting from jaw overuse/misuse (e.g., too much heavy lifting, repetitive movements) and even aging.

How do I stop my jaw from hurting when I lift?

If there is a correlation between an individual’s jaw pain and their weightlifting sessions, they may be clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth too much during reps. Both of these actions have negative effects and can lead to temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and, consequently, jaw pain. To keep this from happening, be extra mindful of teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching and stop it when it happens. Relax the jaws and focus on maintaining proper form while doing reps.

See our specialists for help with jaw pain

For those who live or work in the NYC area, relief from jaw pain and discomfort is just a phone call away.

To get in touch, schedule an appointment now or call us at 212-362-4742.

We also offer Telehealth appointments, where you can book an assessment from the comfort of your home. To book a Telehealth appointment, click here.