Self-Care Suggestions for
Masticatory Arthalgia
& Myalgia
  • Apply moist heat or cold, whichever feels better, to the
    joint or muscles that are sore.  Heat or ice applications
    used for 10 – 20 minutes, 3 – 4 times per day can
    reduce joint/muscle pain and relax the muscles.  For
    heat, microwave a wet towel for approximately 1
    minute or until the towel is warm.  You can also wrap
    this moist hot towel around a hot-water bottle to keep it
    warm longer.  For cold, use ice wrapped in a thin wash
    cloth.  Keep ice on the painful area only until you first
    feel some numbness, but more than 5 minutes.

  • Eat a soft, pain-free diet.  Avoid hard foods, such as
    French Bread or bagels.  Avoid chewy food such as
    steak or boiled sweets.  Cut fruits and steamed
    vegetables into small pieces.  Do not chew gum.

  • Chew your food on both sides at the same time or
    alternate sides to reduce strain on one side.  Chew with
    your back teeth rather than biting with your front teeth.

  • Avoid oral habits that put strain on the jaw muscles
    and joints.  These include teeth clenching or grinding,
    teeth touching or resting together, biting cheeks or lips,
    tongue pushing against teeth, jaw tensing, biting objects
    and other habits.  Note if you do these while you
    exercise or work and then modify your habits.

  • Keep your tongue up, teeth apart and jaw muscles
    relaxed.  You must avoid clenching and grinding your
    teeth.  You should closely monitor your jaw position
    during the day so that you can maintain your jaw in a
    relaxed, comfortable position.  This involves placing the
    tongue lightly on the palate behind your upper front
    teeth, allowing the teeth to come apart and relaxing the
    jaw muscles.

  • Learn and practice relaxation and abdominal
    breathing.  This will help reduce your reactions to
    stressful life events.

  • Identify the events that trigger the pain.  Use a ‘pain
    diary’ to review daily activities that aggravate the pain
    and modify your behaviour accordingly.

  • Get a good night’s sleep.  Manage your sleep
    environment.  Reduce light and noise and lie on a
    comfortable mattress.  For parents of infants, plan an
    occasional night when you are not responsible for the
    baby.  Reduce stimulating activities in the late evening.  
    Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

  • Avoid caffeine.  Caffeine can disturb sleep and
    increase muscle tension.

  • Avoid activities that strain your jaw, such as resting
    your jaw on your hand, excessive singing or use of
    musical instruments, if they aggravate the pain.

  • Avoid activities that involve wide opening of the mouth
    (such as yawning, prolonged dental treatment etc) for a
    period of time until the pain has reduced.

  • Use anti-inflammatories and analgesics such as
    ibuprofen or paracetamol to reduce joint and muscle

Useful Websites:

Eastman Oral Medicine Clinic - TMJ Pain Dysfunction - 4
steps to manage jaw joint pain

Eastman Oral Medicine Clinic - TMJ Pain Dysfunction
Last Updated 11th August 2010