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10 TMJ Disorder Tips from a Physical Therapist

Editor’s note: I’m excited to bring you our first guest post on TMJ Hope. We’re always looking for interested patients, professionals, and others to tell their stories. If you would like to guest post on TMJ Hope, please contact me! Without further ado…. our first guest! Cynthia is an experienced physical therapist, and author of the book, “The TMJ Healing Plan: Ten Steps to Relieving Headaches, Neck Pain, and Jaw Disorders.”

TMJ Tips from a Physical Therapist1. Less is Best
I agree with the National Institute of Health (and TMJ Hope!) who say, “Less is often best in treating TMJ Disorders”. You would be wise to explore your safe, conservative, reversible and cost-effective options before making any permanent changes to your bite, undergoing surgery, or spending exorbitant sums of money.
2. Posture
I feel that trying to treat your head, neck and jaw without addressing your posture would be like giving you a car without any tires. If your posture is out of balance or alignment, it can adversely impact your jaw, neck and head. You need to address your posture in sitting, standing and sleeping. My patients with the worst jaw joints are often those who sleep on their stomach or on their side with their hand or arm pressing on their face. Try sleeping on your back. You could benefit from seeing a specialized orthopedic physical therapist to help you evaluate your posture and alignment. Many patients with TMJ Disorders don’t realize they have loose joints and hyperextend their knees. If your joints are loose you need to learn to unlock your knees and protect and stabilize your joints including your jaw.
Read more TMJ tips from Cynthia…
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TMJ surgery recovery tips

TMJ Surgery Tips – What Has Helped You Through Recovery?

TMJ Surgery Recovery Arthrocentesis Arthroscopy Arthroplasty

TMJ surgery can be a nerve wracking process if you are not prepared…but if you take some time to anticipate what you might need, and learn from patients who have been through it before you, we think you will feel empowered and less nervous.
I have talked with many TMJ disorder patients over the years, and they have shared their tips for surgery with me. After a while, I noticed most of the advice was very similar… it didn’t matter if the patient was having a TMJ arthroplasty, arthrocentesis, or any other type of TMJ surgery.
Most patients felt MUCH better and less nervous if they took the time before jaw surgery to prepare, become knowledgeable about their condition and particular procedure, go over the options, and talk with and get support from fellow patients who had been through the same thing before them. I don’t think this is unique for TMJ, it applies to any kind of surgery!
Here are some specific tips to help you prepare for surgery:

  • Test out different types of meal replacement shakes (Ensure, Boost), or protein powders *before surgery so that you know which ones you like the most.
  • Purchase supportive pillowsto keep yourself comfortable in bed. Everyone is different, but the most mentioned pillows are back wedges, neck supports, and regular pillows to put on either side of you to support your arms while you need to be laying upright.
  • Set up your bed area and nightstands or couch so that you do not need to bend over, get up, or move around to find things when you are recovering.
  • Get your prescriptions filled before the surgery.
  • Depending on what your doctor recommends, a child sized toothbrush or water-pik could be useful if you cannot open your mouth very wide.
  • Stock up on your favorite frozen veggies to make moldable ice packs (we like frozen peas or corn).
  • Buy pajamas that do not have to be put on over your head.
  • Robes are also convenient if you get hot or cold easily, or if you will be having visitors in the hospital.  Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Robes are SO soft, they are my favorites & the ones I always give as gifts.  Click below for more tips and to share your tips!Read More »TMJ Surgery Tips – What Has Helped You Through Recovery?

10 Tips from TMJ Disorder Expert Patients

We have compiled this list of tips from a group of expert TMJ disorder patients..  simple things they do to make living with TMJ disorder and jaw pain easier.  We hope they help you!  As always, let us know in the comments below if you have your own tips or any suggestions.

  1. A bag of frozen peas or corn makes a great ice pack for your jaw! They can be molded to your face or jaw and stay cold for quite a while.  Just make sure you mark which veggies you are using as an ice pack so you don’t cook them for dinner! 🙂
  2. A coffee bean grinder is a good way to make crunchy, hard to eat items like roasted nuts, granola, and corn chips more edible if you have pain when chewing or a small opening.
  3. Smoothies can be pre-made in batches and frozen in ice cube trays. Then, pop them out of the ice cube trays and store them in zip lock bags in the freezer.  That way you have smoothies on demand and don’t have to destroy the kitchen every time you are hungry!
  4. A good blender can end up being your new best friend. After wearing a few out, we like blenders that have multiple speeds & levels.  Juicers are great too – just make sure you use organic fruits and veggies & clean them before juicing since you don’t want wax or chemicals in your juices!  When choosing a juicer, be very careful because this is one area that has not come out with a cheap version that still does a good job.  Magic Bullets (despite the cheesy infomercials!) can be handy to make single serving smoothies, soups, and other foods very quickly.  If you prepare by buying any of these items before your surgery, test drive them by making several meals and freezing them so you will have food ready to go when you get home.
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