Temporomandibular joint disorder, simply abbreviated as TMJ, is a disorder that affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull, the temporomandibular joint. According to Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, this joint disorder affects more than 10 million Americans. TMJ causes a variety of symptoms however, this disorder has been known to cause anxiety.
Anxiety is a condition that progressively develops over time through an individual’s life experiences or as a result of genetics. Besides these conditions, it is possible for anxiety to occur though other factors including Temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition can be difficult to experience on its own and its associated symptoms, along with anxiety, can challenge any person’s lifestyle.
Often times, this disorder doesn’t cause anxiety, but it can worsen anxiety if it was already present.
TMJ and its Symptoms
Temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms include various types of pain, from jaw pain to face pain and even headaches. Long term symptoms of pain can lead to anxiety due to the way each person individually responds to the stress of frequent pain in the body. Also, because there are many nerves and blood vessels that travel through the back of the jaw, TMJ can damage these, causing numbness and many times dizziness, adding additional distress to the body. Tinnitus is a ringing in the ear that the majority of people can tune out but, those affected by the condition may experience an unusually loud enough ringing to disrupt sleep and cause distractions.
Studies also suggest that anxiety can also cause the development of Temporomandibular joint disorder, which in turn may cause the development of even more anxiety. Many people with this condition experience significant clenching of the jaw, especially during sleep, and its possible that this may lead to an increase in TMJ symptoms.
The symptoms for temporomandibular joint disorder can be alleviated and treated through a series of specialized soft tissue physical therapy massages, specifically designed for TMJ pain and dysfunction. The massages focus on relieving trigger point tension on the medial and lateral pterygoid muscles in the jaw, as well as the two palatani muscles. By massaging these set of muscles, the symptoms associated with TMJ may gradually decrease, also possibly improving levels of anxiety.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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