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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. It allows for smooth movements required for talking, eating, and yawning. However, when problems arise in this joint, a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ disorder can develop. Ahead, we’ll explore the surprising connection between TMJ issues and hypothyroidism.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. The TMJ allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side, which is necessary for talking, chewing, and yawning. When someone refers to “TMJ,” they often mean TMJ disorder, which involves pain and dysfunction in the muscles and joints of the jaw.
The symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw joint or surrounding muscles.
- Difficulty or discomfort while chewing, biting, or speaking.
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth.
- Limited range of motion or locking of the jaw.
- Ear aches
- Facial pain
Here are some treatment options for TMJ disorder:
1. Self-Care Measures
- Apply ice or heat packs to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Avoid hard or chewy foods that may aggravate the condition.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to reduce stress and tension in the jaw muscles.
- Avoid excessive jaw movements, such as chewing gum or clenching your teeth.
2. Physical Therapy
- A physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles.
- They may also use techniques like ultrasound or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and improve mobility in the jaw joint.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
- In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe muscle relaxants or low-dose antidepressants to relax the jaw muscles and reduce pain.
4. Oral Appliances
- A common treatment for TMJ disorder is the use of oral appliances, such as splints or mouthguards.
- These devices are custom-made to fit your mouth and can help realign the jaw and relieve pressure on the joint.
- Depending on your specific needs, oral appliances can be worn during the day or at night.
5. Dental Treatments
- In some cases, TMJ disorder may be caused by malocclusion or improper teeth alignment.
- A dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment, such as braces or retainers, to correct the alignment and alleviate symptoms.
- In severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the jaw joint.
Surgery is usually considered a last resort for TMJ disorder when conservative treatments fail.
- It is typically reserved for severe joint damage or structural issues.
- Common surgical procedures include arthroscopy, joint replacement, or joint modification.
8. Alternative therapies
Several alternative therapies have been shown to help with TMJ disorder and its symptoms, including:
- Acupuncture: Some studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in reducing TMJ pain
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): TENS therapy uses low-level electrical currents to stimulate the nerves. It can help relax the muscles and reduce pain. TENS units specifically designed for TMJ pain relief are available.
- Herbal Remedies: Certain herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, valerian, and passionflower, have been shown to have calming and pain-relieving properties. They can be taken as teas, supplements, or essential oils.
- Yoga: Yoga, which combines gentle stretching, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques, can help reduce muscle tension and promote overall well-being. Some yoga poses and exercises specifically target the jaw and may relieve TMJ disorder.
Ultimately, consulting with a healthcare professional or specialist, such as a dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is vital for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. They can determine the best course of action based on the severity of your symptoms and individual needs. Remember, early intervention and proper treatment can significantly improve TMJ disorder symptoms and enhance your overall well-being.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This hormone regulates the body’s metabolism, growth, and development. When you’re hypothyroid, you can develop various symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, and dry skin, among others.
One lesser-known symptom of hypothyroidism is the development of TMJ problems.
So, how are TMJ and hypothyroidism related? It is believed that the connection lies in the effect that hypothyroidism has on the muscles, nerves, and connective tissues throughout the body, including the TMJ. Hypothyroidism can cause muscle stiffness, joint pain, and overall inflammation, all of which may contribute to the development of TMJ problems. When the muscles surrounding the TMJ become stiff and inflamed, it can hinder the joint’s ability to move smoothly. This can lead to TMJ disorder’s classic signs and symptoms, such as jaw pain, clicking, difficulty chewing, and headaches. In some cases, the joint may become dislocated or locked, causing severe discomfort and limited jaw movement.
Several studies have shown a relationship between TMJ disorders and hypothyroidism.
The study “Prevalence of temporomandibular disorders in patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis” found a significantly elevated prevalence of TMJ disorder in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The study included 119 women and concluded that all subjects in the Hashimoto’s group had TMJ disorder symptoms.
Hypothyroidism is frequently accompanied by various musculoskeletal symptoms ranging from myalgia and joint pain to myopathy and osteoarthritis. A study titled “Association between temporomandibular disorders, chronic diseases, and ophthalmologic and otolaryngologic disorders in Korean adults” discussed how the prevalence of TMJ disorders is higher in patients with thyroid dysfunction compared to those with normal thyroid function. This research suggests that TMJ disorder may be a musculoskeletal manifestation of thyroid dysfunction.
The article “Vitamin D3 Metabolism and Its Role in Temporomandibular Joint Osteoarthritis and Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases” discussed the correlation between serum vitamin D3 concentrations and thyroid volume, as well as anti-thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and anti-thyroglobulin (Tg) levels. Although this study did not directly focus on the connection between TMJ disorder and hypothyroidism, it provided insights into the relationship between autoimmune thyroid diseases and TMJ disorders.
A study titled “Symptoms in temporomandibular joints dysfunction in adult patients with thyroid diseases” reported that hypomobility of temporomandibular joints (TMJ) was typical for patients with hypothyroidism. This means patients with hypothyroidism are more likely to experience limited movement in their jaw joints.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and are experiencing jaw pain, stiffness, or other TMJ-related symptoms, it is worth exploring a potential connection between the two conditions. Seeking professional guidance is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. By managing both hypothyroidism and TMJ disorder effectively, you can find relief and improve your overall quality of life.
If you have Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, Paloma’s team of thyroid-savvy healthcare providers can work with you to develop a plan for optimal treatment of your thyroid condition.