In the Fall of 2016, my jaw was half-locked and dislocated for some unknown reason. To make the story short, the physician referred me to a TMJ physiotherapist and my dentist recommended a night guard. The treatment was working but sadly, the TMJ disorder comes back every now and then since its first occurrence. Whenever I feel soreness on my jaw, I know it’s back and I have to go to the physiotherapist again to fix the dislocated jaw and to ease the pain. I came to the point where I would be in so much throbbing pain that I realized I needed to take care of the pain.
According to Neuroscience Research Australia led by Dr. Sylvia Gustin, “The challenge of developing such [pain] treatments has led to more research on the brain’s role in chronic pain.”
In an interview with ABC in 2016, Gustin’s research team said, “At the moment we have focused our work to two areas in the brain, one is called the thalamus—the other is the prefrontal cortex. Described as the ‘border in the brain’, the thalamus acts as the gateway between the spinal cord and higher brain centres.”
“When you sustain an acute injury, there is an opening in the thalamus for information to pass through from the affected body part to the brain. This is very important because then we need to heal, we need to relax, we need to look after ourselves. After an acute injury is healed, we know that this border should actually close.”
When researching people who experience chronic pain, Gustin identified a key neurological difference: the opening in the thalamus remains open long after acute pain is gone. They also found a decrease in the volume of the thalamus, resulting in a decrease of a specific neurotransmitter: gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
So, what does this mean? Gustin explained it means that people with ongoing pain, this border is always open. Every signal gets amplified and it results in the experience of pain.
Moreover, researchers also found people with chronic pain experienced a reduction in the volume of their prefrontal cortex—the region of the brain that is understood to regulate emotions, personality expression, and social behaviour.
This results in a further decline in the neurotransmitter GABA.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the brain’s most abundant inhibitory, or ‘calming,’ neurotransmitter. While GABA is known primarily for its ability to put us in a relaxed state, it actually plays a crucial role in regulating many aspects of mood, attention, cognition, and sleep. GABA deficiency symptoms may involve any of these functions and include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
The above explanations are the reason why I started to check other alternatives for the throbbing pain in conjunction with the yearly physiotherapy, plus, I didn’t really like using the night guard.
Last year, I discovered anti-wrinkle injections through Dr. Targett for TMJ pain relief. While anti-wrinkle injections are known for easing the look of wrinkles, it also helps to relax the muscles, and in my case, I was hoping to soothe my TMJ disorder – and it worked!
The anti-wrinkle injection works to relieve jaw tension and pain. It can eliminate headaches, teeth grinding, and lockjaw by relaxing the muscle that unconsciously creates such stress. This will also keep the jaw muscles from looking defined and the jaw from seeming wider, which is an additional advantage.
How Does It Work
The entire process only takes a few minutes, with a few injections on either side of the face, directly into the jaw muscles. Dr. Targett told me the result would be noticeable after a week or two. To my surprise, the result was only after a few days (not even a week), the throbbing pain stopped that I completely forgot about it.
The injections go into the masseter muscle. The masseter muscle is one of the muscles activated during chewing. It’s located at the angle of the jaw. The treatment takes roughly five minutes.
We all know that anti-wrinkle injections are used to relax the facial muscles that cause fine lines, the maximum effect is seen in seven to 10 days. Similarly, when they are used to relieve the pain of TMJ and teeth-grinding, you should expect some pain relief in around a week. When the injection is used to reduce masseter muscle hypertrophy cosmetically, the maximum effect is not seen for between six weeks and three months.
Anti-wrinkle injections can be used both functionally to weaken the masseter muscle, which is the main teeth-grinding muscle, and improve the pain of TMJ from teeth grinding, or cosmetically to thin the masseter muscle and take away a square look to the angle of the jaw from a hypertrophied or overgrown masseter muscle, softening the look of the lower face.
There’s no downtime, no residual pain, and I went back to my regular activities without any marks or bruising.
Within the next few days, I started to notice far less clenching, especially when I’m driving or when writing my articles. I didn’t have any issues even when I went to my dental hygiene appointment which has always been a challenge since the TMJ disorder occurred. It’s been eight months since the last treatment and it’s just lately that I’ve been noticing the clenching again, which is normal because the injectable treatment lasts for at least six months.
In conclusion, I’m very happy and satisfied with the results.
To learn more about this treatment, schedule a consultation with Dr. Targett at 0403 690 031 or book your appointment online. bit.ly/BOOKYOURAPPOINTMENTS