Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or lockjaw is often thought to be chronic with few treatment options other than pain medications or surgery. TMJ is usually temporary and often caused by simple triggers like sleeping in the wrong position, dentist office visits, or symptoms of stress. TMJ can be caused by teeth grinding which can seem chronic but mostly because the cause is habitual. Many are surprised to discover than chiropractors treat TMJ on a regular basis.
What Is TMJ?
“Temporomandibular” refers to the temporal bones (lower lateral walls of the skull) and mandible (jaw) bones. These two sets of bones are connected at the joint by cartilage and soft tissues that act as a hinge that allows the jaw to open and close. TMJ is the name of this joint, which everyone has, but is often used to describe the pain and other issues with the joint itself. The actual name for problems with the joint or muscles surrounding the joint is TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), but it is most commonly called TMJ. TMJ often involves the jaw joint moving out of alignment so that the normal smooth opening and closing motion is restricted.
Primary symptom of TMJ
The most obvious symptom of TMJ is the lack of mobility in the jaw. Pain can be so excruciating for some patients that they are unable to open their mouths wide.
Symptoms can also include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint area, face, temples, or neck and shoulders
- Pain in or around the ear
- Immobility of the jaw that feels stuck or locked
- Popping or clicking sounds when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial swelling
- Hearing problems
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Tooth pain
Causes of TMJ
- Leaving your mouth open for long periods of time during an extended dentist office visit for procedures like root canals and crowns can also trigger an episode of TMJ. Dental work can cause swelling in the joint area which can cause pain and discomfort.
- Sleeping in a position that puts pressure on one side of your jaw can also cause TMJ.
- One common cause of TMJ is teeth grinding. Many people who have issues with teeth grinding are given a night guard. If the night guard doesn’t bring relief, there is treatment available through chiropractic care.
- Stress can cause a person to clench their teeth which can also cause TMJ.
Chronic TMJ can be caused by arthritis or from an injury to the jaw, face, or neck. Because jaw muscles are supported by neck muscles, stress that causes tension in the neck and shoulders can also lead to TMJ.
How Chiropractic Care Helps TMJ
Chiropractors do special cranial work to rebalance and realign the jaw joint so the mandible bone sits correctly in the groove of the temporal bone, often bringing instant relief. Soft tissue massage in the jaw and temporal muscles can help increase mobility and reduce inflammation. An adjustment of the neck can help realign the neck vertebrae and help relieve tense muscles. Chiropractic adjustments also bring the body’s musculoskeletal structure back into alignment which can positively affect many symptoms in the body which also helps to reduce stress.
A chiropractic adjustment can also:
- Increase neurological health
- Decreases nerve irritation
- Relieve tense muscles
- Improve blood flow
- Boost immunity
- Strengthen spine support
For immediate relief
Step away from any stimulus and stress. Apply a cold pack for ten minutes. Focus on your breathing to relieve any mental tension. After the cold pack apply a warm cloth to the area. Make sure you eat soft foods and relax your jaw. be sure to schedule an appointment with us to get the lasting treatment you need.
Chiropractic Care at Starkwood Chiropractic
At Starkwood Chiropractic, we specialize in the safe, gentle, and effective treatment of TMJ and the reduction of stress through our experienced approaches. While we certainly help patients who have experienced work-related, auto, and sports injuries, we also work to help TMJ pain and relieve stress, migraines, headaches, neck pain, and back pain. The services we offer include stretching and exercise programs, soft tissue therapy, physical modalities, and spinal adjustments as well as nutrition and dietary counseling. We use a holistic, whole-body approach that effectively provides relief of TMJ and stress rather than prescribing addictive pain relievers and performing invasive surgeries. We will consult with your medical practitioner to look for underlying medical problems related to your TMJ and work with their office to come up with a coordinated treatment plan. We accept insurance from most major health insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna, and many others.
Contact Starkwood Chiropractic Today
Starkwood Chiropractic has been helping people find relief for TMJ and other ailments in the Portland, Oregon, area since 1983. If you have TMJ pain, migraines, headaches, stress, anxiety, pain, or any other ailment, you don’t need to just live with it. Contact us and find out how chiropractic care can help you find relief for TMJ. And, of course, if you have been in an auto accident or have been injured and are experiencing neck or back pain, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you are experiencing TMJ right now, no matter what the cause, don’t delay. Call us right away and see how Starkwood Chiropractic can help you take that first step toward the relief of your TMJ. Call us today.
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