Temporomandibular joint disorders, referred to as TMJD (TMJ when specifically discussing the joint itself), are painful conditions that affect your jaw joints and the surrounding muscles and ligaments. When these muscles and ligaments become inflamed or irritated, many people experience mild or severe pain. Because there are varying causes of TMJ, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment option, so it’s important to understand the root of the issue. However, it can be difficult to know who to turn to when seeking medical care.
Can a chiropractor help with TMJ symptoms? Yes, general chiropractic care can help treat and alleviate the pain caused by TMJD; however, a chiropractor specializing in Chiropractic BioPhysics® can provide you with a treatment plan for long-term change.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJD
In many cases, the actual cause of TMJD may be unclear and can vary from person to person. For example, TMJD can be caused by excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing, and speech, or it can be caused by teeth grinding, poor sleep posture, or a previous injury to the jaw area.
Many things can contribute to pain in the area where your jaw bone connects to your skull. These include:
- Jaw injury.
- Bite misalignment.
- Teeth grinding.
- Disc misalignment.
- Joint arthritis.
While it may seem like no big deal, TMJD can lead to more detrimental health issues if not treated. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from TMJD and should seek treatment:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the jaw, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
Can a Chiropractor Help with TMJ Symptoms?
Spinal alignment can play a major role in TMJ pain. How? Because the way your head sits on your spine impacts how your jaw and jaw bones move.
Your spine is made up of vertebrae that stack up, one on top of the other. In between these vertebrae are discs. The spine runs from the pelvis to the base of the skull, and the skull sits on the spine. Since the spine is holding up your head and balancing your jaw, if the spine is improperly aligned, it can tilt the jaw hinge, wearing it down and causing problems. However, a chiropractor experienced in TMJ treatment can help.
A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine followed 14 patients suffering from TMJD. All participants showed a reduction of temporomandibular dysfunction symptoms with chiropractic treatment. But how exactly can a chiropractor help with TMJ symptoms?
At PostureWorks, we specialize in Chiropractic BioPhysics®, a scientific-based approach that uses biology, physiology, anatomy, geometry, and physics to determine the source of your discomfort and pain. We provide three phases of care to correct spinal misalignments:
- Initial Care: The focus of this first phase is to provide relief through adjustments and stretching techniques to help alleviate immediate pain. These stretches will help prepare your body for the next phase of care.
- Corrective Care: The goal of this phase is to correct your global spinal misalignment using the most advanced and effective chiropractic and physiotherapy protocols, helping you improve your postural habits throughout your daily activities and even when you sleep.
You can relieve symptoms of TMJD by restoring natural neck curvature and reducing forward head posture and head tilt. When the head is balanced on the spine, the constant strain and imbalances through the jaw are relieved, including tension on the joint, disc, and muscles that make up the TMJ. A balanced jaw is a jaw that is better able to heal.
- Maintenance Care: To ensure your pain relief lasts, we focus on maintaining your optimal health. We shift attention to long-term TMJ relief by helping you maintain the good posture and cervical curvature you already have achieved. Implementing regular postural exercises and scheduling follow-up appointments will help prevent any regression in your spinal alignment.
Additional Non-Invasive Therapies for TMJD
To keep your TMJ symptoms at bay in between adjustments, your treatment plan may include some of the following tips:
- Adhering to a specific diet: Following a soft-food diet and avoiding hard, crunchy foods can help your jaw heal as you abide by the chiropractic treatment plan.
- Resting: Try resting your jaw by reducing jaw movements to only what is comfortable. While resting, keep your lower and upper teeth apart.
- Using cold or heat packs: Alternating cold and heat to where the pain originates will help reduce swelling and temporarily relieve discomfort.
- Manual Therapy: Releasing the muscles of the jaw may temporarily reduce pain.
- Wearing a mouth guard or aligners: Co-managing with a TMJD dentist or orthodontist is a great idea. You may be experiencing TMJD from teeth misalignment, and corrective action, like aligners, may be beneficial.
Jaw pain may not seem like a big deal, especially if it only comes and goes. However, if left untreated, TMJ dysfunction can have long-term effects that impact everyday functions such as biting, chewing, and even speaking. The chronic pain you experience can have even more detrimental effects, causing sleep apnea, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Get the TMJ Relief You Deserve
Approximately 12% of the U.S. population experiences TMJD at any given time, and many don’t realize that a chiropractor can help with the pain and discomfort it causes. With a combination of postural exercises, neuro-muscular reeducation, and spinal alignment traction, PostureWorks can help treat your TMJ symptoms and improve your spinal health long-term.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or to learn more about how a chiropractor can help with TMJ symptoms.