Provide Sleep Apnea Relief with Positional Therapy

We know that a number of factors can lead to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and that many patients experience more than just one of those symptoms. With that in mind, there have been various sleep studies out there that have shown how a person’s sleeping position can affect the severity of their sleep apnea. Additionally, some sleep apnea sufferers, their sleeping position is the leading cause for their sleep breathing disorder—who would have thought that? So, when a patient’s sleeping position is the leading cause, we can utilize positional therapy to help find relief.

What is Positional Therapy?

Here’s how it works: Positional therapy is simply the changing of one’s position during sleep in order to open the airway and allow for less obstructed breathing. Positional sleep therapy prevents, in one way or another, patients from sleeping in the supine position, which will often obstruct their airway.

Positional Therapy can be performed by completing one of the following:

  • Strap a small ball to the back of the neck to prevent supine sleeping.
  • Strap a foam wedge on the back to encourage side sleeping.
  • Place an alarm that wakes the sleeper each time they roll on their back to sleep.
  • Encourage a patient to train themselves not to sleep on their back.

While it doesn’t seem like much, positional therapy can significantly help your patients get a better night’s sleep. Additionally, it is only effective if the patient’s OSA is in part caused or aggravated by back sleeping. Positional therapy is not a cure for sleep apnea, but it can help to reduce the number of apnea episodes that occur per hour.

This is a therapy that is worth looking into to provide further help for our patients. What are your thoughts on positional therapy for help in providing relief from sleep apnea?

Essential Oils for TMD Relief

Today there are a variety of options available for pain relief. Typically, many people will go the way of medication or even surgery if completely necessary. However, what about the alternative options you have for receiving pain relief? While many people might not agree with it, essential oils have been proven to provide relief in many ways. The FDA has not listed it as an option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out! I know many people who utilize essential oils for a wide range of symptoms and they say it works every time, which helps to keep options natural. Let’s take a look at some essential oil options you might want to test out for pain relief—your patients might enjoy these options in addition to their oral appliance therapy!

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a great essential oil option, but why? Well, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of this essential oil:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Fruity smelling
  • Helps to ease the pain from earaches that radiates into jaw and neck

There you have it—it not only smells good, but it is an anti-inflammatory that helps to provide relief from earaches to jaw and neck pain.

Pain-X and Muscle Relax

In addition to the use of an oral appliance for proper treatment, Pain-X helps with the pain. Alternating between Pain-X and Muscle Relax can allow for proper relief, but don’t be afraid to utilize both at the same time while massaging it onto the area of your jaw joint, as well as behind the ears.

Strength

There are so many options available for essential oils and, yes, there is one called Strength that works! Many people have used Strength for their TMD and have shown success. Simply take the Strength essential oil and rub it around the jaw area to gently massage the joint. By doing this, many people have experienced almost immediate relief from discomfort—its worth a try, right?  You might even want to try to put a drop of Strength behind each ear, on the jaw and at the base of the neck to cover all areas that might experience soreness.

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils and the different options available, do it! And, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me because I have some experience with these oils as well! Let me know your thoughts on essential oils and how they might have worked for you or your patients!

Finding Alternative Treatments for TMD Relief

We know the traditional treatment options for TMD relief, including oral appliance therapy. However, are there other treatment options that don’t require medication or appliances? There are! While these alternative treatment options may not work for everyone, they are available to provide relief for many patients.

Essential Oils

You might have heard about essential oils by now, but did you know there are certain oils that can help relieve some of your patients’ pain? While it is not FDA approved, it does appear to work. And, there are so many people out there right now that utilize essential oils on a daily basis that we should also try to cater to their needs and wants when it comes to alternative treatment options. I will touch base on this topic more in an upcoming blog on choosing essential oils for relief of TMJ pain.

Physical Therapy

By utilizing stretching and range-of-motion exercises, your patients can find relief from pain while also helping to restore proper movement and function of the jaw. For instance, one exercise you might want your patients to try is to open their mouth as wide as he or she can without feeling any pain. With the mouth open wide, have your patient move their jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds and then return to the middle. Next, have them move their jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds, then return the jaw to the center and close their mouth. This can be repeated 4-5 times.

Massage

Everyone loves a massage, right? Massage has been shown to be effective in relieving TMJ pain. Some massage therapists specialize in TMD and even work on the muscles inside the mouth to release tension surrounding the jaw. Trigger points, or muscle knots, are a common cause of stubborn and strange aches and pains, and yet they are underdiagnosed. The perfect spots for massage relief are trigger points that are common and yet fairly easy to massage.

Self-Management

Many times you are your own relief. If your patient suffers from TMJ pain or discomfort, it is important for them to be aware of their own habits. Encourage your patients to avoid chewing gum or eating hard, chewy foods to put less stress on the TMJ muscles. It is also important for them to keep their teeth apart with the jaw muscles relaxed as much as possible throughout the day. Avoiding stress and learning what situations cause them to clench their teeth are both vital in preventing TMD symptoms from getting worse or even returning. Help your patients take charge of their health and understand what is causing their pain.

For more information on TMD and other alternative treatment options, please contact me further.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Sleep Apnea – Part 2

Last week we discussed a handful of nutritional deficiencies in part one of this two-part blog series. Today we will discuss five more nutritional deficiencies and their connect to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). By understanding these nutritional deficiencies, it is my hope that you can further improve the care and treatment of your patients who are currently suffering from sleep apnea. Let’s take a look:

Selenium

In one case report, selenium supplementation completely stopped snoring caused by non-obesity sleep apnea. It’s role as a potent antioxidant may help to reduce the oxidative stress seen in sleep apnea patients. Selenium deficiency has been linked to adverse mood states and several lines of evidence have shown that it is crucially important in the maintenance and modulation of different brain functions. Selenium may also have some role in regulation of sleep and in development of insomnia.

Copper and Minerals

Considered a strong predictor of oxidative stress in sleep apnea patients, copper’s role as a key cofactor in the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) explains the connection with SOD being very low in sleep apnea patients.

Additionally, the trace minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese and selenium are critical cofactors in the major antioxidant enzymes, which are important for repairing cellular damage caused by a lack of oxygen in sleep apnea.

Glutathione

Low levels of Glutathione are linked to sleep apnea. Glutathione helps repair liver damage caused by sleep apnea. The relationship between glutathione and sleep has been shown to defend the cells from destructive agents such as chemical toxins and heavy metals that assault the cells and inhibit their optimum function, causing disease and accelerate the aging process. The two areas involved in sleep are the thalamus and hypothalamus, which are particularly vulnerable to glutathione depletion and can cause sleeping problems.

Cysteine

Oral supplementation with cysteine, the precursor to glutathione, has therapeutic potential for sleep apnea. Snore time and duration were significantly reduced for patients treated with N-acetyl cysteine compared to untreated sleep apnea patients.

Please feel free to contact my office for further discussion of nutritional deficiencies within our patients. By better understanding various symptoms and outcomes, we can definitely remain ahead of the game with providing proper treatment for our patients suffering from sleep apnea.