Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a common condition that effects the jaw. It can be extremely painful and many people are turning to methods other than medication or surgery to relieve that pain. While lifestyle changes such as diet may help, chiropractic care has been cited as a viable treatment for TMJ pain.
At first, this may seem counter-intuitive simply because it is widely believed that chiropractors only address the spine and neck. This commonly held belief is not entirely accurate. Chiropractors can adjust all joints, including the spine and neck. A chiropractor may adjust ankles, wrists, knees, and, yes, even the jaw. Sometimes the neck and spine can be contributing factors and they can be attended to chiropractic care as well.
What is TMJ?
The joint that connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to open and close your mouth is the temporomandibular joint. When you have problems with the muscles or joint in that area it is called TMJ, or more accurately temporomandibular disorders, or TMD.
This disorder is characterized by pain and stiffness on one or both sides of the jaw. The jaw may also lock or get stuck in either a closed or open position. Patients may also notice a popping, clicking, or grating sound in the jaw when chewing, yawning, or when closing or opening their mouth. They may also have trouble chewing and even experience swelling.
Doctors don’t know what causes TMJ. It seems to be linked to trauma to the neck, such as with whiplash, but it also can be caused by:
- Arthritis in the jaw
- Grinding the teeth
- Stress that causes clenching of the jaw
- Movement of the disc, or soft cushion, that lies between the socket and ball of the jaw
Chiropractic Care for TMJ
Chiropractic for TMJ is not only common, but very effective. The chiropractor may perform neck or spine adjustments as well as adjustments to the jaw. This means that the patient may experience pressure on their skull, jaw, upper spine, or neck as the chiropractor addresses the condition. There are also soft tissue treatments that the chiropractor may perform during the course of care for TMJ.
The chiropractor will often recommend lifestyle and diet changes to patients. This offers the patient the opportunity to consider the whole body as opposed to just one area. They may apply cold packs or heat packs to the area, recommend supplements, and teach the exercises designed to lessen the pain and encourage healing. Chiropractic is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment for TMJ.And even better, without the side-effects prescribed by drugs or medications
So if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with TMD and/or are experiencing TMJ pain, give us a call. We are here to help!
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Dr Jim Lopez