Home icon

Does TMJ Heal on Its Own?

Feb 21, 2023
If you have jaw pain and clicking associated with the TMJ, you may hope it just resolves on its own. Though mild cases can sometimes ease up without treatment, serious TMJ requires medical intervention.

Many people say they have TMJ when they actually have a disorder affecting the ball-and-socket hinge located at the back of the jaw. TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint; TMJ disorders affect this joint. 

More than 10 million Americans experience problems with their TMJ. The team at Chiropractic, Rehab, and Sports Injuries of Louisville, led by Michael Young, D.C., help people overcome TMJ disorders, so uncomfortable symptoms and jaw dysfunction disappear. 

Many people avoid getting treatment for TMJ disorders, hoping the pain and dysfunction will go away on their own. If you have a severe or chronic TMJ disorder, it’s unlikely to resolve without professional help. Here’s what you need to know if you’re struggling with TMJ problems.

When TMJ is mild

In many cases, pain in the jaw joint or the muscles of the area is temporary and does not represent a serious problem. The pain may be caused by a dental issue, like gum disease or frequently eating tough, chewy foods. Stress can also cause you to clench your jaw and create uncomfortable tension and stiffness.

If one of these causes is suspected, you can treat TMJ with conservative treatments like:

  • Treating the underlying cause 
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying heat and cold therapy to the jaw
  • Using over-the-counter pain medications
  • Relaxation and stress-reduction techniques, like deep breathing or yoga

Changing habits like biting your nails or persistent gum chewing can also help you find relief on your own. 

You know your case is mild if it goes away for long periods of time and is easily relieved by over-the-counter pain medication. 

When TMJ doesn’t go away

Severe or chronic TMJ disorders don’t usually just go away. The conservative self-care interventions listed above may help relieve your symptoms somewhat, but don’t get at the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder.

Severe TMJ disorders are often related to jaw injury, teeth grinding (bruxism), misalignments in the teeth and jaw, or arthritis. 

Pain and tenderness associated with TMJ can radiate into the ear area. You may find it difficult to chew. Your jaw may lock or click. TMJ disorders can also cause headaches and migraines. 

If you suffer these symptoms for more than a week, it’s time to get help. You can always schedule at our office. Going too long without treatment can lead to eventual degradation of the tendons, muscles, and cartilage. You may end up with nerve damage, arthritis, or permanent dislocation.

Treatments for TMJ

Treatments for TMJ disorder depend on the underlying cause. At Chiropractic, Rehab, and Sports Injuries of Louisville, we offer physical therapy or exercises to ease tight jaw and neck muscles. 

Another treatment for TMJ disorders at our office is dry needling, which involves applying thin, acupuncture-style needles into tight muscles to release tension and improve circulation. 

Medical massage therapy helps target painful muscles contributing to your TMJ pain. Dr. Young also offers chiropractic adjustments that help align your joints and musculoskeletal system. These adjustments can reduce pressures in the area of your jaw and alleviate TMJ pain.  

If you have bruxism or teeth clenching, Dr. Young may refer you to an orthodontist to be fit for a mouth guard or other appliance. 

If you’re struggling with jaw pain, trouble chewing, and headaches or ear pain, it’s time to seek care for your temporomandibular joint at Chiropractic, Rehab and Sports Injuries of Louisville.  Visit the office to be evaluated and treated. Call today, or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.