How Long Do TMJ Flare-ups Last?

TMJ treatment in New Jersey

A TMJ flare-up describes the occurrence of new symptoms related to the dysfunction of your temporomandibular joint, or the worsening of existing symptoms. Often flare-ups happen suddenly and without any warning signs.

In this post, Dr. Ivan Stein of the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey will explain how long flare-ups typically last, the factors that can trigger them and what to do if you experience a flare-up.

Average Duration of a Flare-up

Flare-ups vary from person to person, depending on the underlying cause or trigger. Whether TMJ disorder is actively being managed by a doctor can also influence how long a flare-up lasts. Most flare-ups last anywhere from two days to a few weeks. 

Symptoms of a TMJ flare-up can include one or more of the following:

  • Pain in and around the jaw joint – constant or intermittent
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Audible clicking or popping noises when opening and/or closing the mouth
  • Pain that radiates through the neck and/or shoulders
  • Facial swelling
  • Limited range of jaw motion
  • Lock jaw

Factors That Can Trigger a Flare-up

Stress is one of the biggest culprits of TMJ flare-ups. Stress often causes teeth grinding or clenching that can exacerbate TMJ symptoms. Another common trigger is eating hard, crunchy or chewy foods, such as raw carrots, crunchy bagels, tough cuts of meat, whole apples and nuts. Injury or trauma to the jaw can most certainly cause painful symptoms to begin.

Other triggers that may bring on a TMJ flare-up include dehydration, vitamin D deficiency, changes in hormone levels and even poor posture that causes tension on the TMJ and other facial structures.

How to Manage a Flare-up

If you find yourself in the middle of a TMJ flare-up, your first step should be to seek help from a knowledgeable TMJ doctor such as Dr. Stein. He will schedule an appointment with you as quickly as possible to assess your TMJ and recommend strategies to manage your discomfort and symptoms. Dr. Stein will also suggest how to address the root cause of your TMJ problems.

For quick, temporary relief, the following may help:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications for pain relief
  • Eating only soft foods
  • Applying heat or cold to the jaw
  • Gently massaging the jaw
  • Finding ways to minimize stress and anxiety

Make TMJ Flare-ups a Problem of the Past

To request an appointment with Dr. Stein and his team at the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey, please give us a call or send us an email today.