Botox, or botulinum toxin A, is most commonly known for its wrinkle-fighting abilities. However, for many patients, it has done more than just help improve their appearance — it has improved their quality of life by helping alleviate pain.
When injected, Botox blocks the nerves in the muscles, which temporarily weakens or paralyzes them. This is the reason skin looks so smooth after the injections and why it’s such a popular anti-aging procedure. This muscle-weakening capability is also why Botox is being used to help patients with jaw pain related to temporomandibular joint disorder. The injection helps address hyperactive muscles in the jaw that can lead to chronic pain.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMD, or TMJ disorder, occurs when there are problems with the jaw joint and muscles controlling the movement of the jaw. There is no definitive research on how many people are affected by this condition, but the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research suggests that number could be over 10 million in the United States alone.
Much is still unknown about the condition, including its exact cause, but in some cases trauma plays a role in its development. It can also develop slowly over time, with symptoms increasing in severity.
Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, treats TMJ patients in his Spokane practice with Botox and says many of his patients who have tried other treatments for the disorder have finally found relief.
“The Botox injections help relax muscles and limit their movement, which in turn helps relieve some of the pain caused by TMJ disorder,” he said. “When used with other treatments such as a bite splint or neuromuscular therapy, relief can be widespread.”
The Academy of Facial Aesthetics says that other complications such as lockjaw, TMJ-related headaches and even teeth grinding can be improved with Botox injections.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
If you’ve experienced jaw pain in the past, it may be helpful to be aware of what other symptoms are associated with TMJ disorder. Ear pain is a common symptom along with ringing in the ears. Headaches and facial pain, especially upon waking, are also common. Some patients with TMJ disorder also report clicking or popping sounds in their jaw when they open and close their mouth such as during chewing, speaking or yawning.
Treating TMJ Disorder
Unfortunately, there is no cure for all TMJ patients. Each situation must be evaluated and treatment planned accordingly. For some, moist heat application along with medications such as muscle relaxers or pain relievers can be an effective way to relieve symptoms. For other patients, surgery may be recommended if symptoms are severe and interfering with their daily quality of life.
“Surgery should always be the last resort. This is why we offer our patients an alternative therapy option with bite splints and Botox,” said Collins. “Massage therapy and learning techniques to relax the jaw can also be an effective addition to a patient’s TMJ disorder treatment.”
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788