02 Feb Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ Disorders
Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ Disorders
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ disorders, can cause pain in the jaw joints or the muscles involved in jaw movement. The TMJ joints are the two joints that rotate in front of each ear. These are the joints that allow the mandible/jaw to move side to side, up and down, forward and backward. These movements allow you to chew, yawn, talk, and swallow. When these joints aren’t moving well together, several problems can start to occur.
Some associated symptoms with TMJ disorders/jaw pain can be:
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking and locking of the jaw
- High stress
- Aching facial pain
- Clenching and grinding teeth at night
- Neck pain and tension
- Upper back pain and tension
- Ear infections and ear aches
- Ringing in the ears
- Sinus infections
- Tooth pain
- Eyelid twitching
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The National Institute of Health highly recommends using conservative treatment for TMJ disorders as the first step. Conservative treatments do not create permanent changes to the overall structure and position of the jaw/teeth. Treatments that do cause permanent change lack research for safety and effectiveness.
We often get improvements in TMJ pain, range of motion, and tension, with simple soft tissue or muscle release techniques throughout the jaw and supporting muscles. We will often complement that with chiropractic adjustments and cupping therapy throughout the neck and upper back to reduce tension and stress.
Chiropractic Approach to TMJ Disorders
In many cases, TMJ disorders will be accompanied by associated symptoms listed above. In cases like that, treatment won’t be to the TMJ and jaw alone.
It’s important to remember, all of the fascia and muscles of the neck, upper back, shoulders, and face are all intimately connected. Stress alone is enough to create tension and pain throughout all of these tissues. The TMJ often ends up being the weak point where this tension takes its toll. Very rarely is the jaw the only area affected.
Depending on the associated symptoms present, treatment will be catered to all of the concerns at hand. Cupping, soft tissue work like active release throughout the jaw and neck, and chiropractic adjustments are the cornerstones of treatment. This will help improve range of motion, pain, and release tension.
Another thing to note with associated symptoms like ear aches, sinus issues, ringing in the ear, allergies, headaches, etc., is that the lymphatic system can be blocked up preventing the area from draining properly. The lymphatic system is the sewage system for the body. If it is blocked from draining, new blood and nutrients won’t be able to come into the area for proper healing. Dysfunction of lymph blocks the removal of inflammatory cells from the tissue, leading to chronic inflammation long term.
In difficult cases, there will often be co-treatment with acupuncture and longer massage therapy sessions. The chiropractic treatment may also include neuromuscular stimulation. Neuromuscular stimulation is very helpful to fully release stubborn muscle spasms. Once getting the spasm to release, blood can flow to the area improving nutrient and oxygen support to the area. It will also help to retrain and restore optimal range of motion. As a result, all of these things improve healing.
At Home Self-Care
Times of increased stress can be a trigger for TMJ issues and associated symptoms. Becoming more aware of stress triggers and mitigating their affects can be very helpful to prevent recurrence of symptoms. Daily breathing, yoga, meditation, epsom salt baths, exercise, and other techniques can be very helpful in reducing the affects of stress.
Other simple self-care practices at home can be very helpful in reducing symptoms
- consuming soft foods and resting the jaw from extreme movements (yawning, loud singing, chewing gum, etc)
- alternating ice and heat over the TMJ
- lymphatic massage around the jaw and neck
- gentle range of motion
- self-massage of the TMJ and jaw muscles
Schedule an Evaluation
If any of this sounds like it may be helpful to you, please schedule your appointment here.
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