Gardening is a popular hobby in Columbia. It always feels good to get out in the sunshine and put your hands in the dirt yourself. But if you find that gardening is causing you more problems than it used to, TMJ could be the problem.
How TMJ Affects Your Gardening
TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a jaw joint problem, so how can it lead to gardening injuries? Have you ever noticed that your jaw clamps down when you are lifting something heavy or doing some other physically demanding task? That’s your body working to stabilize its core. You jaw helps your neck muscles straighten your spine and support your head. This helps your shoulder and back muscles put their full effort into what you’re doing.
But with TMJ, your jaw itself is unstable. It can’t help your neck muscles or shoulder muscles. It may even impair their efforts as more effort from the neck muscles is being used to try to stabilize your jaw. When this happens, you are at increased risk for some common gardening injuries.
TMJ and Gardening Neck Pain
When you’re out in the garden, bent over and working in the dirt, your head and neck are in positions that make it harder for them to support themselves. When you’re standing upright, a lot of the weight rests directly on the spinal column, but when you’re bent over, that weight hangs free and needs to be supported by your neck muscles. They need all the help they can get. It’s similar to what happens in text neck.
But if you have TMJ, your neck might have more difficulty keeping your head supported, which can lead to additional neck strain. This, in turn, leads to soreness and pain.
TMJ and Gardening Headaches
The most common causes of gardening headaches are sun exposure and dehydration. Make sure you’re protecting yourself from the sun with a gardening hat or by working in the shade as much as possible. When you’re working in the garden, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough to drink.
But if you’re protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough to drink, TMJ may be causing your gardening headaches. Tension headaches are often due to neck strain, since muscles in the head also partner with neck muscles and can take stress when neck muscles are strained.
If you notice that your gardening headaches are related to the amount of effort you put in and not your time in the sun, you should suspect TMJ.
How You Might Develop TMJ
In particular, you should suspect TMJ if you are in one of the higher-risk categories for the condition. There are many potential causes for TMJ, including:
- Teeth that don’t fit together comfortably
- Poorly fitting dental work, including dentures
- Jaw trauma (including whiplash from car accidents)
- Arthritis (both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis)
TMJ is something to consider when treatments and techniques recommended by your doctor don’t seem to work.
If you would like to be evaluated for TMJ in Columbia, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.