TMJ Problem

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Newell Post, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    For about the past week, I have been having a small problem with my left TMJ. ("Temporomandibular joint", the "hinge" of the jaw.) It isn't terrible, but I don't want to make it worse. When I wake up in the morning, it is stiff and sore, but it loosens up during the day. It doesn't seem to affect my playing. I have known saxophone players with this problem, but not trumpet players.

    I know. I know. I should go ask a doctor or dentist. But I'm checking with the trumpet players first. If you have ever had this problem, please let me know what (if any) worked best:

    1. Give it a rest, and lay off for a few days?
    2. Do some special exercises?
    3. Avoid straining for the high range?
    4. Avoid dropping the jaw for the low range?
    5. Other?

    I'm not a professional. I'm a 61 year old architect who plays recreationally for church ensembles, big bands, and other miscellaneous.

  2. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    Are you pushing your jaw forward while playing? I feel this is to be avoided.

    Regards, Stuart.
  3. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    Good question, stumac. I don't think I push the jaw forward while playing. But what I have been doing to try to strengthen my aging embouchure is the "pencil exercise." (Holding a pencil straight out with the lips as long as possible as an isometric exercise. Rest. Repeat.)

    This has worked for me in the past to help improve range and endurance. (And you can do it while driving in the car or doing other non-trumpet things like working in the office.) But it also might be straining the jaw and pushing it forward.

    I took the day off yesterday, with no trumpet playing and no pencil exercise. The TMJ is significantly better this morning. I do have a performance on Saturday. (Brass choir stuff for Christmas.) Maybe I'll just try to practice easy between now and then and lay off the pencil and see how it goes....
  4. breakup

    breakup Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 19, 2015
    Central Pa.

    My daughter was taking singing lessons when she discovered that she had TMJ, but singing required her to open her mouth a lot more that playing the trumpet, so I am not sure how much it would effect your playing. I'll ask her what effects her jaw the most, her's is on both sides. Her jaw would pop and snap as she opened and closed it, she said it was really painful at times. She used to have a mouthpiece to help the problem, perhaps your doctor could prescribe one that would keep it from being a problem with your playing.
  5. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
    A competent doctor's advice is clearly needed here.
  6. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

    Oct 2, 2014
    New York City
    Nah! Don't go to a doctor - especially not an MD. Just start searching for a new mouthpiece. That seems to be the solution for any and all problems, medical, musicological, political, social, technical, you-name-it.

  7. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    LOL. One day of rest and no more pencil exercises. It's getting better. Maybe I'll ask my dentist. He is a true polymath. Before becoming dentist he was a mining engineer. (True story.)
  8. LaTrompeta

    LaTrompeta Forte User

    May 3, 2015
    Colorado Springs
    I had a friend who developed TMJ. It ruined her career. I would take this seriously, it can be a major problem if not addressed immediately. My suggestion is to practice as little as possible. That sounds counter to what we know as musicians, but health is more important than trumpet playing.

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