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TMJ issues in horses - symptoms and treatments?

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  • TMJ issues in horses - symptoms and treatments?

    It was recently suggested that my coming 6 y/o gelding might have temporomandibular joint issues. He tends to "work" his mouth a lot - will jut his jaw out, kind of bare his teeth, and tip his head to the side. He will do this while standing loose, while standing in crossties, and while under saddle. He also has a history of being unwilling to take consistent (even light) contact, and will often tip his nose in and poll out, almost bracing his jaw, when going in one direction but not the other He is UTD with dental work, just had a checkup and floating done about 2 months ago.

    While I was bummed to hear that he might have another problem (in addition to his back/sacrum/hip/stifle injury from falling in turnout), it did make sense. Since the rest of his body seems to be much more comfortable these days, after several months of massage therapy and stretching exercises, I think we're ready to tackle the mysterious jaw issue. The TMJ issue suggestion seems to fit with his behaviors. He's tentatively scheduled to have his TMJ injected next week.

    My question is, who has had a horse with TMJ issues, how was it diagnosed, and how was it treated? Was the treatment successful? Did anyone try anything that wasn't worth trying? Anything to avoid?

    I just want my poor guy to feel better He tries so hard and really likes having a "job"....he was getting progressively more grouchy the longer he was recuperating and seems happy to be starting work again. I want to try to fix this for him. Any suggestions would be great!

  • #2
    Before going the injection route have you had an equine chiropractor out? Also, have his teeth been floated by a vet who really knows about peerformance dentistry?

    Here is a link to a good article about TMJ issues.



    • #3
      Originally posted by JLR1 View Post
      Before going the injection route have you had an equine chiropractor out? Also, have his teeth been floated by a vet who really knows about peerformance dentistry?

      Here is a link to a good article about TMJ issues.

      Ditto!!! Good luck


      • #4
        I ride a horse with mild TMJ. She gets chiro treatments as needed, I massage her before riding, and I find that using a flash noseband to support her jaw helps her relax her jaw/pole. I also use a baucher bit to reduce the pressure on her bars which I think helps.
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          My horse came with TMJ. Great chiropractor and great dentist - not one or the other, but both - works wonders.


          • #6
            I read an article once on something called Cranio-Facial treatment (I think that's what it was) They said the horses treated were uncooperative at first, but then completely relaxed with the treatment. I'll look for the article.
            "Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
            or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci


            • #7
              I had a horse with TMJ. I had his jaw injected. I only had to do it once and it made a huge difference in the horses way of going, he became much softer in the bridle, more relaxed through his back and his stride was a bit longer and freer.
              Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
              Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.


              • #8
                It was Craniosacral Therapy and the article is in the Equine Wellness magazine--Jan/Feb 2010. I have never used this therapy, but here is the website of the person that wrote the article....http://www.perfectanimalhealth.com/
                Last edited by 12hooves; Mar. 10, 2011, 08:47 AM.
                "Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
                or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for sharing your thoughts and treatments. I am confident in the dental care abilities of his vet, but I am not particularly confident in the general ability/level of usefulness of the local equine chiropractic option. I will, however, ask around for referrals.

                  He does have a flash on his bridle, and has always been ridden in this bit: http://www.doversaddlery.com/product...%2D010066&qs=1 We are trying the same type of bit in the Happy Mouth version right now (as of Sunday): http://www.doversaddlery.com/product...B%2D01678&qs=1. I do have a fat french link baucher that we could try as well. It's made of the aurigan(sp?) material: http://www.doversaddlery.com/product...B%2D01769&qs=1

                  I do want to state that I'm not big on injections.....that's definitely not the first thing I look at doing. The trainer working with him is not big on injections either. That being said, I feel like that could be a fairly simple thing to try and the results (if any) would be quickly noticeable. With rare exceptions, the folks I've met who do equine bodywork/massage/chiro etc have not impressed me with their knowledge, common sense, or honesty , so I'm not particularly eager to go that route again.


                  • #10
                    Since you are not big on injections, (assuming you mean joint) you could try having the area of the TMJ injected with a drug called Sarapin. If you are confident that the teeth are perfect, you may talk to your vet, or vet/chiropractor about that. It seems to be a very safe and effective way to treat TMJ. I have seen horses where one injection takes care of it as long as the teeth are done properly by someone that sedates and uses a speculum.

                    Good luck.


                    • #11
                      I have nothing good to offer except that I have TMJ and its terrible! The doctors have not given me many treatment ideas. Friend who has it went to acupuncture and had tremendous results, so perhaps that could work? (My treatment has been muscle relaxers at night...not exactly something that could work for your guy!) Good luck!!
                      Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                      White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                      Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AliCat518 View Post
                        I have nothing good to offer except that I have TMJ and its terrible! The doctors have not given me many treatment ideas. Friend who has it went to acupuncture and had tremendous results, so perhaps that could work? (My treatment has been muscle relaxers at night...not exactly something that could work for your guy!) Good luck!!
                        I have had TMJ.......was more pronounced after my braces....but as long as I took larger amounts of a calcium supplement I could keep the pain away.....plus I was also fitted with a plastic guard to wear at night........might want to check into these alternatives.

                        I got kicked about 5 years ago in the jaw by my 5 month old (it was not a on purpose) and my jaw has not given me a problem since.



                        • #13
                          My boy Jazz has TMJ issues, once serious but now under control. We tried a bunch of different routes in treating it but found in the end that acupuncture worked best, every 3-4 months, along with B-L solution daily. I did not do an injection, because by the time we discovered it was TMJ that was the root of his issues his tenseness from the pain had caused other issues with his neck, his back, etc. that also had to be addressed. I didn't think much about acupuncture before that whole saga, but what it did for Jazz made me a believer. We tried massage and chiropractic work, but the acupuncture made the most progress.

                          Keeping up on his dental (we have him done every 8 months, by a very good dentist who gives him lots of rest time while working) is also important. Back when he was sound and we were training in dressage I rode him with a Mylar comfort snaffle, O-ring, no flash, and a very, very light hand. It took some time for him to trust I wouldn't cause him pain, and stop his little angry head shake. Now that he can only do light riding, I just ride in a rope hackamore.

                          The saddest part of the process was that after the acupuncture, his whole face and eye shape changed with relief from the pain. It made me feel like a bad mom for not realizing that his grumpiness wasn't attitude, but pain. But now I know how to tell when it's bothering him.
                          "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                          <>< I.I.


                          • #14
                            how to diagnose this problem??

                            The only symptom my colt has is shifting his jaw....and it changes his whole attitude. How does a vet diagnose this problem ....can they palpate it?
                            "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by jazzrider View Post
                              along with B-L solution daily.
                              What is "B-L solution"?


                              • #16
                                Did any of you with horses with TMJ problems notice limited opening of the mouth. As in for bits or even when the vet has the speculum for their dentals?

                                My mare can't open her jaw much. She also tends to grind her teeth and I think its all related to TMJ. I didn't know you could inject it. She always gets it adjusted by the chiro, but I haven't found a good chiro in this area, so its been awhile.

                                She also have a low platte. I have found she likes thinner bits and mullen mouths seem to be the best. She love a hackmore but I don't have enough control over fences.
                                I love cats, I love every single cat....
                                So anyway I am a cat lover
                                And I love to run.


                                • #17
                                  For those at home, there is an easy move you can do yourself that often helps. They really like it. Just place your hands on their cheek muscles near the back of their jaw, kind of flat, and traction downward while gently rocking. You should see them get a little sleepy... Then you can compress upwards from the bottom of the jaw with the same gentle motion.

                                  Stay in a safe position and let the horse tell you if they like it, don't force anything...

                                  This can really help with their TMJ and it usually relaxes them as well...

                                  And then have someone come out and adjust or do acu.

                                  Make sure the teeth are properly balanced.

                                  Examine your training to see if something is aggravating the condition

                                  After all that, you could try injections, but after everything else failed only...

                                  I wouldn't do the sarapin either, unless as a last resort, since it just covers up the problem (it deadens the nerves so they can't feel it). Yeah, they'll feel better for a while, but whatever causes the problem is still there......
                                  Turn off the computer and go ride!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by asb_own_me View Post
                                    What is "B-L solution"?
                                    It's a solution (you should be able to find it if you google it) that some folks call "buteless bute."

                                    And as a aside, I actuallly found COTH when I was doing internet research on horses with TMJ when we first realized it. Just checked my date and wow, it's six years ago! Time just flies. I would have sworn it was only 3 or 4. I had a hard time finding info at first, but for a few threads here on COTH (one was on magnet therapy, which didn't work for us). Joined, made a comment, and had some snarky asshat tell me basically to shutup and use the search function. I jump on anyone who does that to a newbie now.
                                    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                                    <>< I.I.


                                    • #19
                                      I had horrible TMJ. One Christmas I basically had to eat w a straw. Anyway, I had all my wisdom teeth removed (turns out they were "impacted" or something?)--TMJ totally went away! I also had migraines from second grade until then--avg. 3 a month--totally gone.

                                      Talk about a quality of life improvement!

                                      Had to share, just in case it could help someone. I am sympathetic!!
                                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                      • #20
                                        TMJ does make sense with the constellation of what you are seeing. This is a really off the wall question though, and I almost hesitate to say it because I know how conscientious you are, but as you know, bridle cheekpieces are not always exactly the same length. Let's say for example that you have both cheekpieces on the same hole on each side. What if the cheekpiece is actually shorter, or the crownpiece was not cut evenly...that could/would result in uneven pressure on his poll from the bridle. That could either cause what you have observed, or at least exacerbate whatever else is going on. I am going to PM you with a few other ideas too.
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.