Craniofacial/TMJ Pain Treatments
Living with pain, any pain, can dramatically alter your quality of life. Craniofacial pain is a broad term used for encompassing all pain in the face and head, including those caused by Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ/TMD). Craniofacial pain can include the following symptoms:
Locking of the jaw
Clicking or popping of the jaw
Referred ear pain, fullness or ringing
Photophobia (light sensitivity)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD), describes a group of symptoms including headaches; facial pain; jaw pain; sore, chipped, broken, or worn teeth, clicking or popping in the jaw, and limited jaw movement. In many cases people suffering from TMJ/TMD report chronic pain in the jaw, teeth, face, head, neck, shoulders, or back, or any combination of these areas. Snoring, grinding of teeth, frequent ear infections and restricted airway are other problems associated with TMJ/TMD.
At Revive Orofacial Therapy and Wellness Center, we embrace several different treatment modalities for TMJ, craniofacial, neck, and shoulder pain. These options are listed below:
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Points are hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. When palpated, these areas can elicit pain either at the source or refer pain to other areas. Trigger Point Therapy consists of using a syringe needle tip as a scalpel to break up the trigger point in the muscle. The natural inflammatory process will heal the area and reduce or eliminate the trigger point. This treatment is delivered with local anesthetic for increased comfort and can be used in combination with Botox® or Xeomin® to improve symptom relief.
Functional Appliance Therapy
This treatment option works by relaxing the cranio-mandibular muscles - for extra-capsular relief. It treats symptoms by decompressing the joint and eliminating the effects of bruxing with its double-mouthguard effect. Further relief is provided by the change in the resting length of the muscles when the appliance is in place. This treatment assists in relieving TMJ and cranio-mandibular symptoms, limiting bruxing and grinding, and improves patient comfort.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
If TMJ pain and other symptoms of TMD are caused by Oral Myofunctional Disorders (OMD's), then the best way to address the pain is to target those disorders. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy treats OMD's by strengthening the oral and facial muscles and training them to be in their proper positions. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy can make a major difference to TMD - helping to restore the Temporomandibular Joint to correct functionality, reduce pain, and increase mandibular (lower jaw) range of motion.
Botox® or Xeomin® Therapy
Botox® or Xeomin® injections are a minimally invasive treatment option for patients suffering from migraine headaches, jaw pain due to bruxism, myofascial pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain. Derived from the botulinum toxin, it is a purified protein that helps relax overactive and painful muscles. While this injection procedure is most commonly known for its effect on wrinkles, it is also a highly effective pain therapy that can provide three to four months of pain relief.
Splint/TMJ Appliance Therapy
Occlusal splints are a type of TMD appliance and are also a standard method to treat disc displacement with reduction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The goals of splint therapy are to eliminate TMJ and muscle pain, to improve jaw function, and to recapture the displaced disc. Since a splint fits over the upper or lower teeth, the appliance prevents contact between the teeth. When the teeth touch the splint, they're in the least harmful and most correct position. All TMJ appliances aim to relieve pain, discomfort and stiffness in the area where the upper and lower jaw connect, just in front of the ears. TMJ appliances may reduce the symptoms of TMD by reducing pressure on the jaw joints or realigning the bite.
Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial release (MFR) is a therapy useful for treating skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles. Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures can contribute to myofascial restrictions.
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) treatment is effective for TMD-related pain, especially long lasting pain. Laser therapy can help TMD patients not only by restoring the displaced disc, but also healing the nerves surrounding the disk. Laser therapy can send blood to the affected areas so that the muscles and other parts get enough energy to heal themselves. In the treatment of TMD, the application of LLLT can result in the immediate decrease of painful symptoms and increased range of mandibular (lower jaw) movements.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle hands-on technique that works with the soft tissue structures of the body and the flow of cerebrospinal fluid between the head and the base of the spine. These structures and fluids protect, support, and nourish the brain and spinal cord. CST uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of the fluids in and around the central nervous system. Relieving tension in the central nervous system promotes a feeling of well-being by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity. Craniosacral therapy can be highly effective in treating facial asymmetry, cranial imbalances, and soft tissue hypertonicity. These conditions play a direct role in chronic malocclusion, temporomandibular dysfunction, cranial pain, sensory impairment, and a variety of mechanical disorders. In addressing the soft tissue of the TMJ, craniosacral therapy helps reduce compression and abnormal traction on the joint. As cranial alignment and soft tissue traction are normalized, the disc is assisted back to its proper position. Lubrication can again flow around the disc. The disc is then able to move with the jaw, and the popping or clicking sound may disappear. CST also assists in repositioning the mandible, which results in decreasing the hyperstimulation and the nociceptive (pain) impulses of the trigeminal nerve. Additionally, repositioning the mandible will help restore a more balanced occlusion with the maxillary teeth.
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