Eye Pain, Swelling and Twitching

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Has eye pain, swelling or twitching just become too much of a strain?

tmj-eye-painDo you sometimes feel a ‘stabbing’ sensation behind your eyes or do they swell up or twitch unexpectedly making it difficult to concentrate on everyday things? Have you tried everything to relieve these painful sensations and haven’t yet come up with a solution?

When you have ruled out organic causes of eye pain with your ophthalmologist it is likely your pain is related to jaw, muscle  and TMJ function.

These sorts of symptoms could be due to a dental problem related to your jaw and neck muscles and your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These  are  the joints that act like a hinges on both sides of your face. These joints allow you to speak, chew and yawn, amongst other things.

Some problems with the joint can lead to referred pain behind the eyes and the eyebrow area via the Trigeminal Nerve.  The TMJoints  are some of the most complicated joints in your body.  Each TMJ joint is actually two joints in one, a ball and socket joint and a sliding joint.  The entire ball and socket portion can slide forward and back as well as side to side.

The nerve that just might be behind your eye pain

If your bite is not properly lined up, you have what is often called a ‘bad bite’. This can cause friction or uncoordinated motion in one or both of your  (TMJ) TMJoints.

If it stopped right there you would probably never know about it, but unfortunately a nerve runs right past the joints, called the trigeminal nerve.  The Trigeminal Nerve goes to the teeth, the jaw muscles, the jaw joints as well as to the sinuses especially directly behind the eye.  Retro-orbital or behind the eye pain is mediated by the Trigeminal Nerve. This nerve is responsible for passing the message about friction through to the brain and somehow the message is transferred right on through to the eyes as well. The result is that you feel pain behind the eyes and sometimes they cause swelling and twitching because of the pain.

The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve, or actually made up directly of brain cells. The impulses of the trigeminal nerve ultimate are more than 50% of all input to the brain after they are amplified in the reticular activating system.  This is similar to music coming out of an amplifier at a concert.  Good input can be amazing but bad input is intolerable noise.  In this example the bad input or noise is what patients percieve as pain. What we call eye pain is nociceptive input perceived as eye pain.  The pain is absolutely real but the cause is often different than expected.  This is called refered eye pain.  Pain that is perceived in the eye but is actually from elsewhere.

These eye pain symptoms are common in the disorder known as temporomandibular disorder or TMD.  Myofacial Pain and Dysfunction (MPD) refers to the pain coming from trigger points in the muscles.  90-95% of all pain is actually muscular in origin.  The muscles work overtime to protect us from problems.  When they are overworked we have myofascial pain and TMD, both repetitive strain disorders.  More commonly known repetive strain disorders include carpal tunnel and tennis elbow.

There are many other symptoms  of TMD and MPD as well so it’s not surprising that it’s hard to work out exactly what is behind all these varied pains and sensations.  Physiologic dentists are experts in understanding patterns of referred pain in the head and neck .

The ‘bad bite’ that causes the problem in the TMJ is actually a poor alignment of the upper and lower teeth. When they don’t match up properly it puts extra pressure on the jaw and the muscles are used incorrectly causing repetitive strain injuries  like a chain reaction.  These problems affect head position posture and the body as a whole. The bad bite affects the muscles and the TMJ (TMJoints) which triggers the trigeminal nerve causing referred pain that eventually makes your eyes hurt.

The swelling around the eyes and dark circles under the eyes are actually secondary results of unhealthy muscles blocking normal drainage creating venous back-ups.  The dark area under the eyes is due to blood that is not receiving enough oxygen.

Dental treatment may be pain resolution

By now you will be wondering if anything can be done to help relieve the symptoms of eye pain, swelling and twitching. Fortunately, we might be able to provide a solution through the use of a diagnostic physiologic orthotic placed in your mouth that realigns your bite and allows your healing.  The orthotic is used to eliminate the impediments to healing. Doctors who allow the body to heal understand the process of health far better than those who promise magic cures.

An ultra low frequency TENS machine (MYOMONITOR) is used to create minute electrical impulses to stimulate your jaw and neck muscles so they  relax and the jaw and TMJ joint takes up a better position. This makes it easier for a dentist who specializes in physiologic treatment of TMJ and other jaw disorders to pinpoint where your bite should be.  Once the bite is idealized postural changes occur in the neck and throughout the entire body.  The diagnostic orthotic is corrected to reflect these postural changes.

When your bite is kept in the correct place then your TMJoints and jaw muscles will not be triggering the trigeminal nerve and resultant  pain will not be referred to  your face and neck. Effective dental treatment may eliminate or improve your eye pain and allow you to reclaim your normal life.

It may be time to seek TMJ relief

tmj-reliefYou shouldn’t miss out on enjoying life because eye pain is distracting you and painkillers have become a way of life. As it is possible that your TMJ is causing your eye pain, then it may be time for you to take the next step.

A diagnosis of TMD will be required, and we will need to make a thorough examination and eliminate any other potential causes of your eye pain. From there, we can determine what the best step would be for you. TMJ relief may be possible if you have bad bite and it can be realigned successfully.

Jaw Pain, Clicking & Popping

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An answer to jaw pain, clicking and popping

tmj-jaw-painJaw pain, clicking or popping when you move your jaw while talking, chewing or yawning?

This is not only uncomfortable but can be annoying when communicating and eating. It can also become embarrassing when it has reached the point that opening your mouth results in a locked jaw.

If this sounds like you, we think it’s time to be looking for an alternative diagnosis, because the problem could be caused by your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and misaligned bite.

How your TMJ can cause your jaw to ache

If no other diagnosis has been found, your jaw cracking or locking could have something to do with your TMJ. Your TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It’s what allows you to eat, chew and talk through up and down, back and forth and sideways movements. It’s comprised of an intricate network of bones, muscles, nerves, connective tissue and, padding it all, cushioning discs.

You have two temporomandibular joints – one at each side of your face . If either one, or both, are misaligned or not functioning properly, they could be the source of your jaw pain. If this is your case, you could be suffering from what we call a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).  Aching pain is most commonly coming from muscles (myofascial Pain around the affected joints).

TMD may be relieved by realigning the bite

It might surprise you to learn that these sometimes alarming symptoms can be corrected. As noted above, TMD is often the result of your bite not being aligned correctly.

Friction caused by this misalignment can:

  • stretch the jaw’s ligaments
  • breakdown in the bones (arthritis) or cartilage
  • cause scar tissue to form  or,
  • alter the joint’s lubrication system

causing the disk to become stuck out of position leading to pain, jaw locking, jaw clicking and popping. Treatment to help realign your bite can help to relieve the jaw pain and the associated clicking and popping that goes with it.

The most common type of jaw clicking and popping is the Reciprical Click.  It is associated with and overclosed or posterior positioned bite.  The clicking on opening  the mouth is the sound created when the disc goes back into its proper place.  The squeak or dull noise on closing is the sound of the disc going out of place and is often associated with itchy ears.

Tackle TMD with physiologic dentistry

physiologicBy arranging a consultation with a dentist trained in the principle of physiologic dentistry, you can start to tackle the symptoms caused by TMD.

Step 1: Assessing jaw function

There are various advanced techniques used to assess the condition of your TMJ. One is called a Sonography which can monitor joint noises, such as popping and clicking sounds coming from your TMJ, indicating that your jaw isn’t functioning correctly. Another is the MKG (mandibular Kenesiograph or CMS (computerized Mandibular Scan) that can show the physical displacement associated with the noise and how it affects jaw movement.  There is also an autonomic nervous system test which determines your current bite’s strength and if it can be improved.

Step 2: Muscle relaxation

The next step is to get the jaw muscles to relax. This is done through the use of a ULF-TENS (Ultra Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation) machine that relaxes the jaw muscles by emitting minute electrical stimuli at an ultra-low frequency.

Step 3: Reassessing jaw function following muscle relaxation

This is the key to Physiologic Dentral Treatment.  Once your muscles have started to relax, your bite can be accurately evaluated without the chronic muscle spasm, and shortening. The gently realigned  jaw  position or physiologic rest position is recorded three dimensionally through the use of a physiologic bite.  This bite is taken by stimulating reflex movements of the jaw giving outstanding accuracy.  The use of  non-invasive orthotic appliance or diagnostic physiologic orthotic is used as the first step in relieving pain and establishing a physiologic state ideal to induce healing.  Healing will cause postural corrections over time.  It is essential that the process continue to allow healing to progress.