Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is an important hinge joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. For most people, the TMJ acts exactly as it should and allows us to speak and eat without any pain or discomfort. But for people dealing with a TMJ disorder, these everyday normal tasks suddenly become much more difficult, and finding an effective treatment can be even harder again. A chiropractor can help to uncover the root cause of your condition and can reduce your pain and improve your ability to move your jaw.
What is TMJ?
The cause of a TMJ disorder isn't always obvious, although it can sometimes be triggered by a head or face injury. One of the most common causes is teeth clenching or grinding, which is usually unconscious and can be exacerbated by stress. It can also be caused by arthritis within the TMJ itself or by problems with the surrounding muscles.
The symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
• Pain when speaking, chewing, or opening your jaw wide. The pain can be in your face, neck, and shoulders, as well as the area around the joint itself.
• Difficulty opening your mouth wide
• Your jaw getting stuck in either the open or closed position
• A clicking/popping/grating sound when opening or closing your jaw
• A change in the way your top and bottom rows of teeth fit together (your "bite")
• Teeth sensitivity
Can chiropractic care help with a TMJ dysfunction?
Many people dealing with a TMJ dysfunction become frustrated at the lack of effective treatment options. In some cases, orthodontics or surgery can help, but for many people, treatment is confined to pain and anti-inflammatory medication, behavioral changes such as eating only soft foods, and using heat/cold pads.
A chiropractor will take a different approach to treat TMJ dysfunction. They will carefully examine the joint, surrounding muscles, and the surrounding musculoskeletal structures such as your neck and shoulders. Based on their assessment of the cause of your TMJ dysfunction, you will usually receive a comprehensive treatment plan that is aimed at treating the root cause of the condition rather than simply masking or avoiding the symptoms.
This treatment plan can include therapies that focus on the joint itself, ensuring that it is properly aligned and healing any issues with the soft tissue within the joint. It will also usually include treating the surrounding muscles and connective tissues, as they are often affected by the TMJ condition. Reducing inflammation and tension in these soft tissues can help to free up the joint and allow it to function again as it should. You may also receive treatment for your neck and shoulders if these have been affected, or are affecting, your TMJ dysfunction. Finally, your chiropractor may look at other conditions that may be overlapping with your TMJ dysfunction, such as fibromyalgia and stress, and suggest starting treatment for these as well.
TMJ dysfunction can be painful and it can also have a big impact on your ability to live your life as you normally would, including basic tasks like eating or speaking. A chiropractor can help to find the root cause of your condition and treat it. This can include treatments that are focused on the joint itself, as well as treatments that focus on the surrounding muscles, and even treatments for other conditions that could be impacting your TMJ. These treatments combined can help to free your jaw and help you get back the quality of life that you have been missing.