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Addressing TMJ in Musicians: Special Considerations and Treatments

Are you a musician who has been experiencing symptoms of TMJ? You might be more prone to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) than you realize. Musicians often face unique challenges when it comes to TMJ and proper treatment. That’s why we have put together this helpful guide for addressing TMJ in musicians.

What is TMJ?

TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint disorder, is a common condition that affects the bones, muscles, and ligaments in the jaw. The joints and muscles used for chewing are affected by this condition, which can result in pain and stiffness. Symptoms of TMJ can range from mild to severe and may include clicking or popping noises when the jaw is moved, stiffness in the jaw, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth. Chronic pain and migraines can also be symptoms of TMJ.

Special Considerations for Musicians

As a musician, you likely rely on your jaw for playing musical instruments. This means that you may need to make additional considerations when it comes to treating and managing your TMJ. Playing your musical instrument may aggravate your TMJ symptoms or make them worse. Though it may be tempting to play through the pain, this can actually prolong and worsen your symptoms. This means that you may need to take more time off work and practice while you are treating and managing your TMJ.

Treatments for TMJ in Musicians

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for TMJ, and the best course of treatment will vary based on the individual. That said, some common treatment options may include the following:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be very effective in relieving TMJ symptoms. Physical therapists can work to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in and around your jaw. In addition to instructing you in exercises to perform in the office, physical therapists may also assign you exercises to do at home. These exercises can help to keep your muscles in the proper alignment and improve your range of motion.

Splint Therapy

Splint therapy can also be an effective way to address TMJ in musicians. During splint therapy, a custom-fitted mouthguard or splint is fashioned to help keep the jaws in proper alignment. This can help to reduce the muscle strain and tension associated with TMJ. Some musicians may also find that wearing a splint can help to reduce the intensity of their symptoms.

Pain Relief

If your symptoms are particularly painful, your dentist may also be able to prescribe pain relief medications. Over-the-counter pain medications are also an option for some people. It’s important to discuss pain relief with your dentist before you take any medications, as some medical issues can be worsened by certain types of pain relief medications.

Preventing TMJ in Musicians

Of course, the best way to address your TMJ symptoms is to work on preventing them in the first place. Prevention can be difficult for musicians who spend long periods of time in practice and performances. That said, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing TMJ:

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks during practice or performances is one of the most effective ways to prevent TMJ. Try taking short, frequent breaks where you can rest your jaw and muscles between periods of intense practice.

Use Proper Posture

It’s also important to use proper posture while playing your musical instrument. This means keeping your back straight, and not slouching. Make sure to also keep your head level, and not dropping or twisting your neck while you are playing.

Perform Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

Performing muscle-strengthening exercises for your jaw muscles can also help to reduce your risk of developing TMJ. Exercises that work the side-to-side muscles, as well as the up-and-down muscles can help to reduce strain on the temporomandibular joint.

In Conclusion

Treating and addressing TMJ in musicians can be a unique challenge. By taking special considerations to address the unique demands of a musician’s profession, and utilizing treatment options, you can help to reduce your symptoms. Preventing TMJ by taking regular breaks, using proper posture, and performing muscle-strengthening exercises can also lessen your risk. It is important to talk with your dentist about your treatment options to determine what is best for you.