Although it’s well known that working in a high-stress environment can have adverse effects on your mental health, did you know it can also cause you physical pain? More specifically, chronic stress can cause jaw pain in a sensitive area — your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
TMJ disorders (also known as TMDs) can introduce even more stress into your already stressful life. The last thing you want is to bring work home with you — including the physical pain that a tight muscle joint.
In this guide, we’ll go over how work and other high-stress environments can cause chronic TMJ disorders. Then, we’ll go over the steps you can take to alleviate your pain so you can live a happy and pain-free life both inside and outside of work.
How Burnout Causes Jaw Pain
Though there are several reasons why somebody may be inflicted with TMJ disorders, one main factor is chronic stress brought on by your workplace and the subsequent burnout you may feel. This can lead to tightness in your muscles and may lead you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth.
Common symptoms of TMDs include painful and consistent clicking in your jaw when you open and close it, a change in how you rest your teeth, and general stiffness and pain in your jaw and neck area. These symptoms often happen out of the blue, meaning that they may throw a wrench in your already stressful workday.
Work Stress and Jaw Pain
The temporomandibular joint is one of the most sensitive joints in your body, thanks to the tricky combination of both sliding and hinging motions it goes through every day. This means that when work stress causes muscles to tighten, the TMJ is likely the first to be affected.
When this muscle tightens, you may experience pain, fatigue, and stiffness in the area. Though it may seem hard to relieve your jaw stiffness, you can break the habit in several ways:
- Set a reminder for yourself on a calendar app to relax your jaw.
- Use a calming meditation app every morning, night, or both.
- Put a sticky note on the corner of your computer that says “unclench your jaw.”
- Set your phone wallpaper to a “relax your jaw” reminder.
Burnout and Teeth Grinding
Stress and anxiety caused by work can create a condition known as “bruxism” — also known as teeth grinding. This may lead to lockjaw, chipped teeth, and symptoms of TMDs.
Once you have an official diagnosis from your primary care provider, they may offer you some solutions like wearing a nightguard. Other great options to relieve stress include daily meditation, yoga, and consistent breathing exercises.
How to Relieve Jaw Pain
When it comes to jaw pain relief, there are a few tried-and-true methods that can help you ease the pain quickly. You may be able to even find relief from jaw pain while you are at work — killing two birds with one stone.
- Apply a hot or cold compress to loosen the muscles in your jaw and even get relief at the nape of your neck.
- Avoid excessive chewing so you don’t put any extra pressure on your TMJ.
- Keep good posture to align your spine and alleviate symptoms of TMD. A standing desk while you work may help you keep a proper posture.
Now that you are able to identify the stressors at work that cause you to clench your jaw and potentially adopt a TMJ disorder, you can properly utilize these means to avoid and relieve yourself of jaw pain altogether. Your wellness is something you should invest in.
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