The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located at both sides of the head and it connects the lower jaw to the skull at the temporal lobes on each side. It is responsible for the opening and closing of the jaw, as well as side-to-side and forward/backward movements. Most people don't think about their TMJ but when temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD, often also known as TMJ) sets in, then it can restrict these everyday movements and cause high levels of pain. Chiropractic care can help to reduce these symptoms and correct problems with the TM joint as well as the surrounding muscles.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
The symptoms of TMD aren't just restricted to the face, mouth, and jaw. It can also cause pain throughout the upper body.
Main symptoms of TMD:
* jaw discomfort and soreness
* clicking and popping of the jaw
* locking of the jaw
* restricted mouth movements
* a change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
* clenching/grinding of the teeth
Other symptoms can include:
* pain behind the eyes, face, shoulder, neck, and even back
* earache/ringing in the ears
* teeth sensitivity
Causes of TMD
Some people have a genetic predisposition to getting TMD, but there are some environmental causes of the condition as well, such as a jaw, head, or neck injury. Other causes can include arthritis, tension or stress that has led to teeth grinding or clenching, autoimmune diseases, fingernail biting, infections, or improper alignment of the jaw.
Can chiropractic care help with TMD?
While many people think of chiropractors as being health professionals who work on the spine, the scope of chiropractic care is actually a lot broader than that. Chiropractors are able to treat conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system throughout the body, including the face and jaw.
When it comes to TMD, chiropractic care will generally take a multi-pronged approach. Some of the causes of TMD are related to a degradation in the joint itself and some are related to problems with the surrounding muscles, but in either case, there will usually be some overlap in the areas affected just because of how closely related they are.
If the jaw is misaligned, a chiropractor can help to realign it by using careful adjustments to the joint itself. They will be able to feel for which side of the joint has become stuck and can use precise movements to bring it back into its correct position.
There are numerous muscles that surround the jaw, including the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid. If these muscles have become tight or inflamed, they can impact on the functioning of the joint. A chiropractor will be able to release these muscles through the use of a variety of techniques, including massage, stretching, and release techniques.
Very often, treatment will also focus on other muscles in the surrounding head and neck area, as well as the top two vertebrae of the neck. These can be affected by TMD and begin to cause pain and dysfunction on their own, so treating these is also often a part of recovery.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a common condition that can cause difficulties with everyday tasks such as eating, drinking, and talking, and it can also cause pain. Chiropractic care can help to treat the dysfunction directly and/or reduce its symptoms so that pain levels lower and the jaw can go back to normal functioning.