Does your jaw hurt? Join the club, and then try these three easy tricks for TMJ relief. The average person’s jaw opens and closes around 20,000 times per day. Which is why disorders of the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, are such bad news. Unfortunately, they’re also very common, with over 3 million people seeking TMJ relief in the United States every year. Whether you consider jaw discomfort an annoyance or a life-destroying physical problem depends on how bad your TMJ is out of wack. Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder (TMD) are obvious, like these: Pain in the jaw muscles A bite that feels “off” No comfortable or natural way to hold the jaw Clicking, popping, or grating of the jaw joint Locking of the jaw A jaw that opens “crookedly,” as if one side opens faster or wider than the other Of course, it’s normal to have one or two of these symptoms at some point or another. A muscle strain, injury, or stress could cause the jaw to click or ache for several weeks or months. But with TMJ disorder, it never ends. In fact, TMJ disorder (TMJ-D or TMD) affects much more than just the jaw. Due to the complex connections between the muscles and tendons related to your head, neck, shoulders and the rest of you, TMJ disorder can cause problems far and wide: Chronic headaches Ear pain, pressure, fullness, itching, or “stickiness” with no apparent cause Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears Dizziness Vision problems Pain in the neck, shoulders and back Dry mouth from decreased saliva flow One more bummer about TMJ disorders: There’s no simple cure. While TMD sufferers can try a range of treatment options such as surgeries, splints, orthodontic modifications, and Botox, the National Health Institute warns that the risks and benefits of these procedures still need more research. Experts strongly recommend sticking to the simplest, least invasive, least permanent treatments possible. Now for the good news: TMJ disorder responds very well to self-care practices. Try these three simple tricks for TMJ relief. Easy TMJ Relief Jaw Exercise This simple TMJ relief exercise is based on something called reciprocal inhibition. Basically, when muscles contract on one side of a joint, the muscles on the other side must relax. You can hack this system to relieve the clenched-up, stubborn part of your jaw. Gently put your fist below your chin, like you’re pretending to pay attention. Open your jaw, letting your chin push your fist downward. Resist only gently with your fist — just enough to make your jaw push a little. Hold your jaw like this silently for seven seconds. Drop your fist and relax your jaw as much as possible (big exhale!) for three seconds. Repeat at least three times. Feel better after trying this easy TMJ exercise? Let us know in the comments! Neck and Shoulder Stretches for TMJ Relief It’s all connected, you know? Some days your jaw hurts more than your neck, and sometimes it’s the other way around. But when you’re dealing with TMJ, you might as well assume one thing is triggering another. A bad day of neck and shoulder pain will make your TMJ disorder feel worse, because it will affect the way you hold your jaw that day. A bad TMJ day could mess up your neck tomorrow because of the increased tension in that area. The best thing to do is take a holistic approach and look for ways to calm as much of this problem area as possible. This yoga-based stretching routine is easy for beginners and shockingly effective at relieving pain in the jaw, head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. It’s great for relieving TMJ pain, and you can even do it at your desk! Simple Self-Massage for TMJ Relief Most TMJ disorder sufferers will writhe in pain for hours before they’ll try out self-massage. Why the stubbornness? It’s a mystery! Especially when the hinges of the jaw that cause the most TMJ trouble are so unusually satisfying to massage on your own. The magic spot is the notch where the jaw connects to the skull. It’s like a tiny archway at each side of your face, just beneath the outer edges of your cheekbones. You can find it easily with your fingertips or thumbs, and when you press it, you’ll feel that “good pain” that means you’ve hit it. Use your fingertips, thumbs, and knuckles to poke and knead this trigger point to your heart’s content. It’s a sturdy spot, so don’t be afraid to go at it. You might even want to grab a massage tool to make it easier on your hands. This TMJ pain massage is a good way to start the morning, and to turn to throughout the day whenever you feel discomfort. It makes a big difference! Don’t neglect to explore the rest of your jaw and neck area with your fingertips, too. You might have your own particular problem spots that respond well to massage for TMJ pain. Of course, there’s much more you can do for TMJ relief. It’s all about behavior. Cut out the gum-chewing, wide yawning, and toasted bagels, and stop taking your stress out on your jaw! What’s your go-to method for TMJ relief? Tell us in the comments! 3 Responses Melissa May 27, 2018 Thank you for sharing on TMJ! I’m a licensed massage therapist. I recommend anyone suffering with TMJ to seek out a massage therapist. Ask a qualified licensed massage therapist if they are familiar with TMJ. Many therapists have had training and are willing to help you out of pain! 🙏 Reply VijAY April 20, 2017 Thank you! What a beauty of an article. SImple… easy to follow and most of all effective. I loved it. I hope others read it and follow the gentle well meaning intent of the author! Five stars are not enough… Reply Millie April 9, 2017 Thank you so much for this pin. I have searched the Net looking for things to help. I have had TMJ before but never where it lasted this long. The first exercise you recommended completely took the pain away. 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