You’re having jaw pain or jaw clicking, have been told you have TMJ disorder, and you’re wondering if you should be getting botox? I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I would want to know exactly what is being done, what are the potential negative side effects, and what are my other options. Continue reading this blog if you want to know what botox really is, how it works, and what the best treatment for TMJ disorder and jaw pain is.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This is a hinge joint between the temporal bone and mandible (as seen in the picture below). TMJ disorder or dysfunction is not necessarily an issue of the bones, but the ligaments and muscles surrounding the joint are definitely impacted.
Common symptoms of TMJ Disorder include:
- Jaw pain
- Teeth grinding
- Facial Pain
What causes TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder, TMJ dysfunction or TMD, is the dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint that is no different from any other dysfunctional joint in the body. That means the area of pain is not always the cause of the problem. When it comes to jaw pain you always want to assess the musculature surrounding the head and neck as well as the jaw. Imbalance in these surrounding areas will directly impact the alignment of the jaw and therefore the function. This dysfunction can happen by simple things like visiting a dentist to get dental work done to sleeping on the side in such fashion that the jaw is pushed sideways slightly which when done often, causes issues. Of course, let’s not forget the fact that part of this joint is your skull and the alignment of the head over neck and the integrity of neck muscles and curvature are huge players.
Forward head, resulted from overuse of digital devices leading to tech neck is perhaps the biggest contributor of TMD as discussed in the video below.
It is understandable that when you’re in pain all you want is to be out of it. Frankly, there is not time to strategize a war when you are fighting it. But is the answer Botox?
What Does Botox Do for TMJ Pain?
If you’re thinking about getting botox injections for TMJ symptoms, let’s be clear about what you’re getting into. According to medline.gov https://medlineplus.gov/botox.html Botox, also known as Botulinum toxin type A is a drug made from the toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This is the same toxin that causes a life-threatening form of food poisoning, called botulism https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/index.html .
How Does Botox Work?
As mentioned before, the symptoms of TMD and jaw pain are related to muscular imbalance and over active muscles in the face and neck; Botox injections work by paralyzing the muscles in the face to a degree and the idea is that if the muscle activity is diminished, the pain will dissipate. This is not entirely wrong, but because these injections do nothing to actually address the root cause of the muscular imbalance, the results are not long-lasting and re-injections can be as often as every 3-12 months.
These injections are not only expensive but can come with a variety of symptoms including:
- Pain, swelling and bruising at the injection site
- Flu-like symptoms
- Upset stomach
- Temporary drooping eyelids
There is still much research needed to know the full long-term effects of prolonged use of botox injections. Research conducted https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409568/ on animals show the negative effect on bone density suggesting bone loss of the lower jaw affecting the TM joint and the bones around the teeth and how it ‘should be communicated to the patients before BoNT/A intervention in the masticatory muscles.”
Although Botox treatment may be effective in treating the symptoms of jaw pain, the real issue and cause of the symptoms must be addressed. So what are the other options if Botox is out?
Natural Treatment for TMJ
Soft tissue imbalance, resulting in tight muscles, and pain are directly related to postural imbalance. The simplest question that no one bothers to ask is why? Why are these muscles tight? Why is there an imbalance?
If you evaluate the movement and posture, and assess the lifestyle habits and work environment the answer is obvious just as the video above showed. What we commonly see in patients withTMD and jaw pain, is that just like most other musculoskeletal conditions (yes, TMJ problems are musculoskeletal) posture, movement, and lifestyle are always the feeders of issue. It’s no surprise that once these are addressed, the symptoms not only start to go away but stay away with the proper maintenance.
When it comes to treating the soft tissue of the face and mouth contributing to the TMD watch the video below but don’t forget that the movement and function of the neck, collar bone, arm and shoulder blade directly influence the health of your TMJ.
If you have TMD, TMJ issues, teeth grinding, and headaches, make sure to contact me for our TMJ specific assessment.