Botox Injections for TMJ and Facial Pain
Botox (botulinum toxin type A) injections—widely used as a cosmetic enhancement to smooth wrinkles—has been shown to alleviate some health issues. The FDA has approved the drug for certain pain disorders, specifically migraine headaches. Botox has been proposed as a possible treatment for TMJ disorders and facial pain; such treatment would involve injecting the drug directly into the chewing muscles to relax them.
What are TMJ disorders?
TMJ disorders affect the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement, causing pain and discomfort. These disorders are typically the result of excessive teeth grinding. Although many individuals with TMJ symptoms report only temporary and cyclic discomfort, some people develop more serious ongoing problems. More often seen in women than men, some estimates indicate that over 10 million Americans have a TMJ disorder.
Is Botox a Safe Treatment for TMJ Disorders?
Although Botox is not currently approved by the FDA for temporomandibular joint and muscle (TMJ) disorders and facial pain, researchers are investigating the effect Botox has on facial nerves and muscles. So far research findings from clinical studies have been inconclusive and any use of Botox to treat TMJ disorders should be viewed as an off-label use. Further research is needed to determine whether the drug is effective and safe to use to treat chronic TMJ disorders. However, some doctors are suggesting Botox injections as an alternative treatment to reduce soreness and eliminate the tension headaches that result from teeth grinding. Some patients have reported noticeable improvement within a week of the injections.
If you have chronic TMJ symptoms, talk to a health care professional about managing the discomfort. Before using Botox for a jaw joint and muscles disorder, it is important to review all the possible risks associated with botulinum toxin type A injections.