The link between facial tension and TMJ pain

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Facial tension often occurs as a response to stress and can lead to discomfort in other areas of the body.   

If you have ever felt stressed — and who hasn’t — you will know that a common physical side-effect is tension. Tension can be held in many areas of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, and face. The reason that this tension occurs is that the body actually physically reacts to stress by releasing hormones that activate the sympathetic nervous system and cause the muscles to contract.

If you suffer from stress for an extended period of time, your muscles can remain in this state of contraction. This, in turn, can lead to discomfort and pain. Read on to find out how facial tension can affect your overall wellness, and how it could be linked to any TMJ-related pain that you experience…

What does facial tension feel like?  

Some of the most common symptoms of facial tension include a tingling sensation in the affected area, reddening, and headaches. In many cases, stress is a trigger for tension headaches, which can cause dull pain or a tightening sensation in the head and forehead.

Tension headaches typically occur in one of two forms: episodic tension headaches and chronic tension headaches. In the case of an episodic tension headache, you may experience a headache anytime between 30 minutes and a week. Chronic tension headaches, on the other hand, tend to last for hours and occur frequently for weeks or months.

What is the link between TMJ disorders and facial tension?

Although facial tension may be caused by a number of contributing factors, stress and anxiety are among the most common culprits. It is also possible for these factors to exacerbate already existing tension in the face.

Stress often causes one to clench the jaw, grind the teeth, and/or tighten the muscles of the face. These habits can all lead to TMJ-related issues, including jaw pain and physical stress on the muscles of the face and neck.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of a TMJ disorder that you believe may be caused or exacerbated by stress and facial tension, it is advisable that you seek professional help. If left untreated, TMJ disorders can lead to a range of other issues and often cause considerable pain.

In the meantime, you might find it helpful to practise stress relieving techniques to try and reduce tension — these may include regular exercise, meditation, and deep breathing. It is also worth limiting your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and if your jaw pain is very severe, stick to soft foods that do not require much chewing.

How can we help?

At TMJ Centre Melbourne, we understand that the symptoms of TMJ disorders can be caused by a range of factors, including stress, anxiety, and tension. That’s why we work very closely with each patient to provide an effective and lasting solution. We take a holistic approach to the treatment of pain and will always consider all areas of a patient’s health and lifestyle when providing a diagnosis.

If you are struggling with any of the uncomfortable symptoms of a TMJ disorder, we encourage you to come and see us for a consultation. We offer a number of treatment options and take a coordinated approach with a combination of dental and chiropractic services.

To find out about the full range of services that we provide, please have a look here. To chat with our team or to book an appointment, please contact us here or give us a call at (03) 9417 4038.