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The Connection Between TMJ and GERD: What Bend Residents Need to Know

Bend, Oregon is a beautiful town with deep roots in history and modern amenities. Its relaxed lifestyle is perfect for outdoor adventurers, looking to explore stunning landscapes. But Bend residents can also experience uncomfortable health issues, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although these two conditions may seem unrelated, they are actually more connected than you might think.

So, what exactly is the connection between TMJ and GERD? How do you tell if you have either, or both, of these painful health issues? What are the symptoms to look for, and why should Oregon residents be concerned? This article will help you answer these questions and more, so let’s dive in.

Understanding TMJ and GERD

TMJ is a condition that occurs when your temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, is damaged or becomes inflamed. This can occur due to a number of factors, including stress, trauma, arthritis, dental problems, and even poor posture. TMJ can cause a number of symptoms, including pain, soreness, stiffness, difficulty eating, dizziness, and frequent headaches.

On the other hand, GERD is a condition that arises when the stomach’s acid backflows into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD, which can be quite uncomfortable and hard to ignore, include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, a feeling of food sticking in your throat, and acid reflux. This condition is often related to hiatal hernias, obesity, and poor eating habits.

The pain of both TMJ and GERD can vary in its area and intensity as well, and it can sometimes be hard for a doctor to diagnose the source of the pain without proper testing.

The Connection Between TMJ and GERD

TMJ and GERD might seem like they have nothing in common. However, a growing number of medical practitioners are now beginning to recognize a link between these two disorders. One theory suggests that the same nerve that innervates the temporalis, a muscle that controls jaw movement, is connected to the diaphragm, which plays a key role in GERD symptoms. This could explain why such unrelated conditions might coexist.

What to Look for and Why You Should be Concerned

If you are experiencing the symptoms of either TMJ or GERD, or a combination of both, it is important to talk to a doctor as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis. Since the symptoms of each condition can overlap, getting a proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

For Bend residents, this is especially important because TMJ and GERD can both have a negative impact on your daily life. Pain and discomfort can make it hard to focus on work or school, and the inability to eat or even swallow can significantly impact your overall well-being. In addition, untreated GERD can lead to more serious health issues down the road, so early detection is essential.

How to Treat TMJ and GERD

Thankfully, there are treatments available to help you manage your symptoms. Some treatments for GERD include lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods or caffeine, not eating too close to bedtime, acupuncture, and medications. CAM treatments, such as chiropractic care, have also been shown to help manage symptoms in both conditions.

As for TMJ, treatment can include at-home stress management tools, massage therapy, physical therapy, mouth guards to prevent teeth grinding, and cornerstones of osteopathic treatment, including chiropractic care, acupuncture, and yoga.

The Bottom Line

TMJ and GERD are both potentially painful conditions that can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being. Having a basic understanding of these two disorders and their potential connection can help you recognize the symptoms and take action to get the proper treatment. It is important to see a medical professional as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms that could be a sign of either of these conditions. In Bend, there are specialized health centers like Integrated Health Center that can help you find the right diagnosis and treatment.