Botox could offer relief from jaw pain
Posted November 18, 2011
Millions of people suffer from jaw pain associated with temporo-mandibular joint disorder, or TMJ.
Caused by inflammation of the joint which connects the mandible to the skull, TMJ can cause pain while chewing, create dull aching pain the face, give people headaches and can even contribute to hearing loss.
For many people the pain is so debilitating they will do anything to get relief. A new approach, which uses the wrinkle-fighting injection Botox, is offering relief for some.
Laurie Violi, who suffered for 20 years with TMJ-related pain, said the injections have changed her life. She used to have headaches bad enough to keep her awake at night.
Violi tried standard treatments for TMJ, using mouth guards and even having her teeth shaved down to prevent clinching or grinding, but nothing worked. Since beginning Botox injections, however, those symptoms have improved.
“It’s changed my life completely,” she said. “It’s by far the best thing.”
Dentist Salomon Maya says that Botox relaxed the chewing muscles in the jaw that often cause the majority of the pain.
“When you inject it into the jaw muscle you are relaxing that muscle,” he said.
The drawback, at least for now, is that Botox injections for TMJ aren’t covered by insurance companies.
Maya injects 10 to 12 areas around Violi's jaw and face every three to four months, at a cost of about $400 to $500 per session. Violi says it’s worth the cost.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Botox for the treatment of wrinkles, migraines and eye muscle disorders but is still studying the impact of Botox on jaw pain.
Doctors recommend people suffering with TMJ symptoms should try traditional treatments like mouth guards, hot and cold packs and eating soft foods before using Botox injections.