UPDATE: For detailed information and practical steps to help you beat TMJ disorder naturally, take a look at TMJ No More.
In the disease process of TMJ, it’s the temporomandibular joint that is most seriously affected.
However, despite the fact that joint degeneration issues like arthritis contribute to many cases of TMJ, most sufferers don’t think about joint nourishment and repair when it comes to providing relief for TMJ. While many sufferers would just pop a pain pill or muscle relaxant when the painful twinges start, the reality is that these quick fixes don’t address the root cause of the problem.
Investigating the contributing factors to your particular case of TMJ and nourishing the joints with targeted joint supplements can really contribute to easing the pain and discomfort of TMJ.
To understand how the two main targeted joint supplements work, it’s important to first understand some of the pathology or disease process at work that occurs in the development of temporomandibular disorder or TMJ.
As most sufferers would know TMJ is a very painful condition affecting the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the jaw to the skull, around the area between the eye and ear on each side of the face.
Although there is no clear cause of TMJ, there are many contributing factors, many of them falling in the category of joint damage such as trauma or injury to the joint, joint degeneration such as in arthritis, or joint misalignment causing joint damage.
When joint damage occurs, it is often the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bone that is affected.
Cartilage on the ends of our bones allows our joints to operate smoothly and seamlessly on a frictionless surface. Without cartilage our bones would rub together and as the normal surface of our bones isn’t smooth and contains many nerves, this would be very painful and damaging.
In joint damage this cartilage can be worn away allowing the bone to rub on bone, producing pain, inflammation, swelling, reduced joint movement and a grating feeling or sound from the joint.
These symptoms are very common with the joint damage involved in TMJ.
The good news is that there are supplements that target the cartilage in joints helping to strengthen and rebuild it, and provide relief from the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of joint damage.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are well known joint supplements favoured for the good evidence that supports their role is assisting cartilage repair and easing symptoms of degenerative joint conditions such as arthritis.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are effective for joint cartilage because they actually form a part of natural joint cartilage.
Glucosamine in its supplemental form is usually sourced from the coverings of shellfish and is well absorbed by the body. Chondroitin can come from natural sources such as animal cartilage or it can be made artificially in a laboratory.
Glucosamine and chondroitin may be included together in a supplement for joint health, or may be provided separately, with glucosamine generally being the more popular supplement to be featured on its own.
Although glucosamine is naturally present in our cartilage, our levels of this joint cushioning molecule drop as we age.
There are no food sources of glucosamine so the only way to increase your intake is via a supplement.
Although the science isn’t clear yet on how it works, glucosamine seems to counteract the effect of progressive joint deterioration and helps to ease the pain of mild to moderate joint damage.
Glucosamine is also thought to help with cartilage and formation and repair, which is useful in existing joint damage.
Chondroitin is another component of cartilage that is naturally present in our body but deteriorates as we age.
Chondroitin gives cartilage its elastic effect and when taken as a supplement is also thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect which can help ease pain and swelling in joints.
It may also help to slow the deterioration of existing cartilage and help to build new cartilage growth.
Benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for TMJ
From the many reported benefits and advantages of supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin, we can see many of these actually apply to the disease process in the temporomandibular joint affected by TMJ.
Results of one of the earlier studies on glucosamine and chondroitin supplements on TMJ revealed that 80% of those who used the supplements reported a decrease in TMJ noises with an associated decrease in joint pain and swelling.
The patients in this study actually used a combination of three supplements, 1,600 mg of glucosamine, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate, along with 1,000 mg of vitamin C, and all of these were taken twice daily.
Another recent study showed that between patients who used either glucosamine supplements for their pain, or a traditional anti-inflammatory medication, ibuprofen, the patients who used the glucosamine supplement actually reported greater reductions in pain.
In this study, 71% of patients who used the glucosamine supplement reported a significant reduction in pain, compared to 61% of patients who reported a reduction in pain thanks to the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen.
How to use Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Research has shown that glucosamine and chondroitin are very helpful supplements for joints and may help reduce pain and inflammation and rebuild cartilage in the temporomandibular joint affected in TMJ.
But how should they be taken and are there side effects?
Glucosamine and chondroitin have been shown to be quite safe as supplements, with minor side effects only occurring in very high doses.
However, because glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are often derived from animal products they may not be suitable for vegetarians and are certainly not suitable for those with allergies to shellfish.
Due to potential medication interactions, those suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, bleeding disorders, or high blood pressure should check with a doctor before using glucosamine. Those with asthma or prostate cancer should not take chondroitin supplements without talking to a doctor first.
While some research has shown numerous benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, other studies seem to not reflect these same results.
This effect could be due to a number of reasons and more research is needed.
In the meantime, if you get the all clear from your doctor, the best way to find out if they work for you is to give them a try.
There is certainly plenty of anecdotal and scientific evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin have significantly improved the joint condition and quality of life for many people.
To provide the best benefits for your joints and relief from TMJ, the recommended intake of glucosamine from studies was 1,500 mg a day and the recommended dose of chondroitin is between 1,200 – 1,800 mg a day.
For the perfect dose for your needs consult with your healthcare professional about what benefits you would like to receive from the supplements in regards to your TMJ pain.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two incredible joint supplements that offer a lot of hope to sufferers of TMJ for rebuilding and strengthening the jaw joint and obtaining long lasting relief from TMJ pain.