Thursday, June 9, 2011

TMJ and Stress

Chronic Stress Can Lead to Physical Disorders
Anyone who has TMJ  or TMD will have their own unique profile.  There will always be several factors contributing to their dysfunction for instance, stress, arthritis, trauma or accident, even birth defects to name but a few.  Stress is one of the primary contributing factors leading to TMJ.
If you are feeling threatened in any way the body's natural automatic stress response is designed to protect you from aggression or predators.  This is often referred to as the "fight or flight response" which prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from a threat to your survival.  The body releases chemicals and hormones to provoke action on your part as well as communicate to areas of the brain controlling motivation, mood and fear.  Once the situation that triggered the  response has been dealt with the body and mind will return to a relaxed state.
Stress is a normal reaction to all the demands you must meet everyday and while some stress is beneficial long-term stress can be harmful.  Long-term stress puts you at risk for diseases  such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, weakened immune system and  many others. With chronic stress in your life, the mind and body will suffer. 

In today's society there are many stresses that you often cannot fight or run from and so you must sit and wait until a later time  to deal with a situation.  This can cause aggressiveness, hypervigilancy and over-activeness and then you act in ways that are self-defeating and work against our emotional  and physical well-being.  The build up of stress hormones in the body can lead to psychological and physical disorders.  Examples of physical disorders are teeth-grinding, muscle tension or headaches.

It is no wonder then that stress is a major factor in TMJ or TMD. The same nerve that is activated in the "fight or flight response" , the Trigeminal nerve or fifth cranial nerve, is also used by the Temporalis, Masseter and Pterygoid muscles used to chew, bite and swallow your food.

Research tells us that more women have TMJ than men.  Even though men have more stress than women the research shows that men have better outlets for relieving stress than women do in our society.  In the human body the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system are the control mechanisms by which stress is translated into a physical response. High stress levels have been associated with TMJ pain.  What physical responses do you have to stresses in your life?  Do you bite your fingernails, chew on a pen or pencil, clench your jaw,  gnash your teeth.   Perhaps your posture changes from being standup straight to being hunched over or head and jaw jutting forward which puts added weight on neck and shoulders.  You may even be asleep while your body manifests its stress in physical ways such as bruxism, the clenching and grinding of teeth.  Have you ever woken in the morning with a headache or migraine and experienced a dreadful pain behind one eye or on one side of your head?  Have you ever felt a throbbing pain on one side of your head that is very sensitive to the touch?  Do you suffer from stiff neck and shoulder pain?

How to Deal With The Stress
Dealing with stress is your best defense against the resulting symptoms of TMJ. Take a good look at areas of your life that are causing you stress. Make your home environment soothing and free of clutter.  Have an tranquil spot where you can go to relax.  It may be a home spa decked out with  soothing music, aromatherapy or delightful bubble bath or a shady spot in the garden where you can read your favorite book. Give your home positive energy with Feng Shui and add live flowers and well placed items that have meaning for you.

How is your attitude?  If you can perceive your life in a positive way this can help you lower stress levels. Most people I meet seem to have a degree of "perfectionism" in them which often causes them stress as they can never live up to their own idea of perfect. Overcome that need to be "perfect" and let yourself relax.  One way is to be happier and laugh at yourself when something does not turn out just the way your wanted.  Remember Bridget Jones and her "blue soup"?  Find your sense of humor by looking for the humor in everyday events or rent some funny movies that will make you laugh.  

Try positive affirmations if you recognize that the little voice in your head is too negative.  Get that voice to start speaking positively.  Try visualizations to send your worries and stresses up in a balloon, high into the sky until it disappears from view and then relax by letting go of those stressful thoughts and issues in your life.

Are you overloaded with too many things to do? Learn to say "No" and do not overload yourself with more than you can handle. If you find saying "No" too hard then say "Yes, but I wont get to it until next week" or "next month".

Take a close look at your relationships and end any relationships that are toxic to you.  Make new relationships with people that make you feel better not worse.  Let their "feel good" behavior rub off on you.  Mimic their behavior even if it feels awkward to you at first  and pretty soon you will find that your attitude becomes more positive and you are happier.  If you cannot totally avoid people that cause you stress then try to see them as little as possible. Why would you invest in a relaationship that makes you feel stressed?

Deal with resentments and let go of anger. Learn to communicate your feelings and not hold them in.  If you cannot talk to the person or a friend write down the issues that are giving you stress.  Realize that you cannot change other peoples' behavior.  You can only change your own  and by doing so you will see a change in their behavior.

 It is important that you take good care of yourself.  Make sure your diet is healthy and you are avoiding eating foods like sugar and caffeine.   Make sure you are getting a good night's sleep.  Eliminate late nights and excessive intake of alcohol.  Invest in a good pillow that will allow you to sleep on your back.  Get plenty of exercise and fresh air. Any exercise whether gentle and slow like Yoga or demanding and fast like running will help relief built-up stresses.  Make time for a hobby that gives you pleasure.

TMJ and You
Evidence shows that 75% of TMJ sufferers will benefit from stress-relief techniques.  Do the TMJ exercises and methods of relaxation that best suit you.  Continue with your chosen treatments and medications.  However, if your teeth are misaligned then you need to seek out the help of a professional doctor or dentist. The goal is to relief TMJ pain and getting rid of stress will be a major contributing factor to your recovery from TMJ or TMD.

"TMJ NO MORE" has helped thousands get relief from TMJ or TMD.


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