stressWhy does my face hurt?
You already know that stress is the culprit of all kinds of bad stuff: weight gain, headaches, mineral deficiencies - the list goes on. But now you've got another reason to chill out: TMJ.
Yep, chronic pain in your neck and upper back, migraines or ear problems might be coming from this condition -- and your stress levels, diet or lifestyle habits could be to blame.
Stats and Stuff
According to TMJ.org, "Temperomandibular Joint Disorder is characterized by pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues and limitation in jaw movements."
TMJ affects over 35 million people in the US each year - the majority of whom are women in their childbearing years. In fact, women outnumber men a whopping 9 to 1. Lucky you.
If you have TMJ, you know that jaw pain is only one of many irritable symptoms. Other problems can include sore cheek muscles, a clicking or popping noise in the jaw, difficulty opening your mouth all the way, teeth grinding, sore shoulders, itchy/clogged ears, balancing issues (vertigo), whooshing or ringing sounds in the ears, migraines, headaches and a whole smorgasbord of stuff. Fun!
TMJ isn't some crazy virus you suddenly wake up with one morning. Some women are simply born with it, while others get it thanks to car accidents and other vicious blows to the facial region. Even more interesting, however, is that scientists are starting to draw a link between female hormones and TMJ, suggesting that estrogen levels might actually play a role in the severity and onset of the disorder.
Many TMJ sufferers are also women who have fibromyalgia - a condition characterized by chronic aches and pains all over the body. When you hurt all the time, you're more likely to be stressed, fatigued and completely out of whack. No wonder that glass of wine sounds so good at the end of the day.
Diagnose Me, Doc
This is where things get weird. There currently isn't a universally-accepted way to test and identify TMJ disorder. Many dentists, doctors and so-called "TMJ specialists" diagnose the disorder by obtaining every last piece of patient history information and doing dental X-rays or CAT scans. Unfortunately, patients end up blowing massive amounts of money on office visits, pain killers and, in worst-case scenarios, completely unnecessary surgeries that usually do little for pain relief.
TMJ Home Remedies
What can you do to feel better? There are many all-natural, home remedies that actually work to cure TMJ:
saladDiet. Inflammation-fighters such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and healthy fats should be staples of your diet. Conversely, tension-inducing stuff like energy drinks and soda should be avoided as much as possible. Oh, and don't even think about chomping down on hard candy or nuts.
Exercise. Put down that remote, get off Facebook and go outside. Ride your bike. Go for a walk or jog. Go chase a semi down the freeway so long as it gets your blood pumping.
Stretches. Most TMJ stretches are quick and easy to do. A simple stretch such as turning your head slowly to the right as far as you can and then all the way back to the left can loosen up those stiff face muscles. Do them first thing in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
Lifestyle. Know what's causing a lot of that tension in your face? That messed-up relationship or bad job. Make a list of the stuff that's causing you stress and ditch it ASAP.
Posture. Sit up straight. All that slouching at the office and in your car is pulling your neck and jaw muscles forward. Sit up straight to help reduce tension.
For additional information on the disorder, check out some TMJ treatment options you can easily do from home.
Do you have TMJ? What helps you manage the pain? Let us know in the comments section below!
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