Self-help for TMJ

After experiencing small tremours on the opposite side of my face to my TN side I sent off to an internet bookstore for a self-help book on TMJ. I reasoned that it might help as I have neck & shoulder discomfort, whistling in my ear, pain in my forearm and a history of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. The TN started after two severe attacks of back pain with regular muscle spasms.

Anyway, the book arrived a week ago. I instinctivrly feel it's right for me as it takes a holistic approach, treating the body as a whole interconnected system. There are exercises to strengthen and relax the jaw, as well as exercises to re-align the whole body. My head/neck posture is poor [particularly at the computer] and it addresses this. The jaw relaxation position [lips closed, lower jaw relaxed, tongue on the roof of the mouth away from the teeth] has been so useful.

It's not a quick fix. This will take a lot of time; checking & relaxing tight muscles, doing the exercises and learning new patterns to replace bad habits. Last night was not a good night. My jaw still hurts and often it winds up towards a nerve attack but I try the relaxation exercise or use a warm face-cloth and it goes away. Since I got the book I've not had a nerve shock. It could all go wrong tomorrow but at the moment I'm not on any medication at all.

I think the main thing it has given me is the feeling that I'm partly in control of things instead of a victim of pain. My life no longer feels as if it shrinking and I've become aware of how tense and stressed I was, creating yet more body tension.

I'll report how it all goes but would welcome feedback from people who may have tried something similar.

I love what you said. I refuse to be a victim even if I have to learn to be function while in pain. I have tmj problems as well.

Thanks Pat,
That is good that you have not had a nerve shock. My worst TN attack started with a migraine and a stiff neck. I woke up one morning that way. I had a few odd pains before that but it got much worse that day. And the acupuncturist told me the neck is related to face pain. And the pain center wanted me to try a nerve block in my neck - something about the sympathetic nervous system So I tend to believe there is a connection with the neck and posture. Almost everyone has poor posture at the computer. I am going to get new glasses and give it a real try. I take my glasses off and lean into the computer. I hope you continue to get good results. Keep us posted. And I’m going to try to have better posture also. I think all of us should try it. Thanks so much for this info.

Liz, good luck with the new glasses. Apparently the head weighs between 9 and 15 pounds so poking it forward to look at the screen puts a big stress on the neck.


I just ran across your blog here. It is my belief that posture problems, TMJ and the total alignment of one's upper body from the shoulders up could possibly have an effect on the severity of Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia pain, from which I suffer.

Would you mind e-mailing me the name of the book?

If you have time, drop me a line and tell me how you've been.



Stef, in reply to your questions I am doing pretty well going down the exercise route but I'm not yet totally symptom-free. I exercise my jaw muscles, neck and shoulders and have improved my posture with hand weights and stretch bands as well as with a yoga ball, pilates and other keep-fit exercises.

The first book I got over the internet is "Taking Control of TMJ" by Robert O. Uppgaard,DDS. I only got so far with that before getting a book he recommended"Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way" about trigger-point therapy. It works by pressing on muscles which trigger referred pain. For jaw pain this can involve sensitive spots in the shoulders neck and head. It's not straightforward as the pain can move and there can be setbacks but it has been a breakthrough for me.

Apart from a bad patch after a prolonged dental exam I haven't had nerve shocks for a long while. I still get some pain or discomfort when I eat hard things or clean my teeth but generally I'm very much better and I'm much fitter. The really big bonus is that I'm now drug-free. Good Luck x