When I meet with new patients in our office, I have lots and lots of information that I give them to help them understand their TMJ and sleep problems. One of the biggest things we talk about is commitment. Yes, that’s right, when you come to my office you have to commit to the treatment regimen or it simply will not work. I know it makes sense, of course, but so many people I meet are doing lots of activities that have contributed to their TMJ or sleep problems that they have a hard time changing their lifestyle to heal the joints. Our new patients tell me they live for playing golf, going to the gym, or running 10 miles daily. When you work with me, all that will have to change, for a while at least. For sleep apnea issues, changes generally are more aligned with how you sleep, what you are consuming before bedtime and your sleep cycle.
Today, I had to refer one of our patients out for TMJ surgery. This will be done by the surgeon I have used for many years. When a patient does need surgery, it requires a very strict commitment to the details and the healing process. You must not lift anything above five pounds for two months and you are on a liquid diet for that time. Then you can slowly start lifting a bit more weight as the months go by. You will return to our office every four weeks for an adjustment of your splint appliance. There is no discussion – you have to follow the protocol. Talk about being strict!
I think part of the reason I wrote this blog was to help people understand that the TM joints are serious business, and you need to pay attention to them if you seek treatment. As part of the commitment to getting better, we also have to restrict our patient’s workout regimens as well. Basically, if you are a TMJ patient, there can be no heavy lifting at the gym (above the shoulders) or outside the gym! No chin-ups, no pull-ups, no bench presses. There is no running on the treadmill (or in general) because this will pound the cervical spine (the neck) and lead to further TM joint disruption. Your workout can, however, be modified to allow the joints to heal properly. This means you can do the elliptical all you want. Go ahead and do leg presses and ab crunches as well. You can also do curls – but with light weights. So, with some guidance and planning, we can help you figure out a protocol to keep in shape while we heal the jaw joints.
If you do decide to get the TM joints feeling better, it will take time (12 – 18 months) and a commitment to the program to improve. In our fast-paced world sometimes this is not so easy to do. Therefore, I am glad you read my blog and now have an idea of what you need to do to get better. My team and I are happy to assist you in any way we can. We are committed to getting you healthy again!