Does Botox help to treat Jaw Tension and TMJ?
Botox: Breakthrough Treatment for TMJ
Temporomandibular joint disorders, commonly referred to as TMJ, involve malfunctions in the jaw joint and the attached muscles that control movement. Statistics estimate that more than 10 million people in the United States have the problem in varying degrees. While most experience mild symptoms that come and go, for others the problem is more severe. Treatment depends on the type and extent of the affliction. However, recently researchers discovered that Botox injections prove beneficial for some patients.
Jaw Tension and TMJ
On each side of the head, the jaw meets the skull and forms a hinged attachment known as the temporomadibular joint. The joint enables eating, drinking, swallowing and talking. In some people, the joint falls out of alignment from excessive muscle tension. The stress may occur from actions that include teeth clenching or grinding. When the muscles tighten and the jaw displaces, the individual may suffer jaw pain or tension headaches. If subconscious clenching or grinding becomes chronic, the muscles remain tense along with the misalignment and pain.
The Benefits of Botox
Most often associated with botulism food poisoning, Botox A is the toxin produced by the bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. In the 1990s, researchers discovered that the chemical compound had medical potential for treating a variety of neuromuscular problems. When injected, the refined substance prevents neurons from releasing acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter that initiates muscle contractions. In so doing, the affected muscle relaxes in a paralytic state. When injected into specific facial areas, jaw muscles relax, tension subsides and the TMJ pain ceases. Following treatment, patients commonly experience some immediate relief that progresses over the course of one week. The duration of symptom alleviation varies from one patient to another.
Determining Candidacy for Botox
Though largely considered a safe remedy, patients must undergo careful evaluation before clinicians provide treatment. Physicians initially obtain a complete medical history that includes a list of current medications, as Botox may cause an interaction. Also, not all patients diagnosed with TMJ suffer from muscle tension. The temporomandibular joint might displace secondary to having overly relaxed muscles. In this instance, Botox injections are not the treatment of choice. The treatment is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.
If determined a candidate, the physician may apply ice or a topical anesthetic prior to administering the injections. However, for most the discomfort of the needle is likened to a bug bite or a quick prick that does not require previous numbing. The entire treatment takes 10 to 30 minutes. Recovery time is generally not necessary. But, patients are typically advised to remain upright for a determined number of hours, which prevents the solution from spreading to unwanted areas. Patients should also not massage or rub the injection sites.
Risks of Botox Therapy
Patients may experience reddening, slight bleeding or bruising over the injection sites. In rare cases, individuals may develop headaches, upper respiratory infections, nausea and temporary drooping of an eyelid. Muscles may become overly relaxed or weakened. If requiring multiple treatments, some people develop antibodies against the toxin, which renders the therapy ineffective.