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Botox for TMJ : Not just for wrinkles

Most individuals are familiar with Botox, which is the Botulinum Toxin, injections for wrinkles and fine lines. However, did you know that Botox could be used to help treat your TMJ dysfunction? 

The term TMJ refers to the Temporomandibular joint which has a hinge and a slide mechanism. You might have TMJ dysfunction if you have pain, clicking, trouble opening your mouth or even locking of the jaw. 


What muscles are involved?

The solution is injected into several muscles that assist in opening and closing the jaw:
  • Frontalis
  • Temporalis
  • Masseter 
  • Lateral Pterygoid 



                                      Woman massaging her cheek against white background

Who performs botox injections?

Your physician is the person to ultimately recommend and perform Botox injections, not your physical therapist. However, your physical therapist can perform dry needling in the same areas that would receive the botox injections. 

The term "dry" comes into play because there is no injectable solution at all. The needle insertion of the needle into the tight muscles helps force them to release. If you get great relief from dry needling but it's short lived, speak to your doctor to see if you're a candidate for Botox injections. 

Mor et al 2015 noted the typical efficacy duration of 12 weeks but have seen wide variability. 


                   jaw pain


How does the Botox work? 

Botulinum toxin  is a paralytic neurotoxin (meaning toxic to the nervous system) whose main function is to inhibit acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction. This more simply means that the botox works on the nervous system and decreases the activity of the muscle and therefore decreases the tone or tension in the muscle. 

What are the side effects? 

The most wildly reported negative side effect is difficulty chewing because of muscle weakness and is related to how strong of a Botox dose your doctor used. Fascial asymmetry has been noted if the masseter muscle is injected too close to the zygomaticus major.   


If you want to address your TMJ disorder, start by contacting our office today!