Temporomandibular Joint Disorder aka TMJ or TMD
The temporomandibular joint is a joint that attaches your lower jawbone to your skull. Basically the joint is a hinge that helps you to move your jaw up and down and from side to side.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (aka TMJ or TMD) is a condition of the nerves, disc and muscles of the jaw that causes pain to the structures of the face. In most cases, an injury to the temporomandibular joint is the cause of the symptoms TMJ patients report to us here at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage.
What Can Cause TMJ?
When we say ‘injury’ to the joint, basically we mean anything that can cause the temporomandibular joint to function improperly. These can include the following:
•Injuries to the teeth, head or neck
•Poor posture particularly in the upper back and neck
•Stress and anxiety that lead to jaw clenching
•Arthritis or other bone or muscular disorders
While some of our patients will report an obvious injury that they recall directly before they began to experience the symptoms of TMJ, many patients are not actually aware of how or when the injury occurred. They simply report that one day, the symptoms seemingly began out of the blue.
Symptoms of TMJ
Many of our patients at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage report mild to severe pain in the area where the lower jaw meets the skull, just below the temples. As well, headaches, earaches, and sometimes jaw locking are also reported.
Peripheral symptoms can result if TMJ is not treated properly and quickly. These symptoms can include the following:
•Increased anxiety and fatigue
•Lack of sleep due to pain
•Sinus and ear pain which can lead to dizziness
•Problems with eating, where only soft foods can be tolerated
•Increased neck and shoulder pain due to ‘tensing’ of the muscles in the jaw and neck
There are a standard set of tests that include x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs etc. to diagnose TMJ, however often times, the condition can be diagnosed simply based on the patient’s symptoms and history. If there are obvious dental issues, the patient may be referred to an Orthodontist for further investigation, otherwise, a variety of treatment options have proven successful in reducing the symptoms of TMJ.
NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen) are often prescribed by doctors to help reduce the inflammation that can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ.
As noted, if your TMJ is the result of a dental problem, you should see an Orthodontist as soon as possible so that corrective treatment can begin.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, our Chiropractors and RMT’s use a combination of treatments to help treat the cause of TMJ, along with relieving the symptoms. As we know, improper alignment of the spine can lead to a whole host of other problems in other areas of the body. To help ensure that your body is properly aligned, one or more of the following methodologies may be used to help correct the problem(s):
Trigger Point Therapy
With trigger point therapy, the focus is on helping to relieve tension in the muscles and joints of the face, jaw, neck and shoulders. By manipulating certain areas that are comprised of muscles fibers and nerves, tightness and knots can be reduced or completely resolved to allow the muscles to work properly again. This will often include release work both inside and outside of the mouth and jaw.
Back and Neck Adjustments
Sometimes, TMJ can be the result of improperly aligned bones and muscles in the back and neck. By manipulating and adjusting the back and neck, patients may experience relief from their symptoms of TMJ.
At Home Treatment Recommendations
As a part of the treatment you’ll receive at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, our practitioners will work with you to develop a plan for at home treatment to enhance the results of your in-office treatment. These can include one or more of the following:
•The use of ice packs to decrease swelling and inflammation
•The use of heat to help loosen muscles
•Special stretching exercises to help keep your muscles supple and functioning optimally
•Relaxation techniques to help reduce the anxiety many TMJ patients report
As well as the above, the following recommendations are always made to our patients with TMJ:
•Avoid eating things like gum, hard candy, or other types of food that can over-stress your face and jaw muscles
•Be aware of the state of your facial and jaw muscles, and try to keep them relaxed whenever possible vs. clenching or grinding your teeth
•When chewing, distribute food in your mouth evenly so that all of your jaw muscles are used as opposed to just those on one side or the other. This will help to lessen the load on the muscles that may be the cause of your TMJ.
•Avoid activities where your head or jaw are put in an unnatural position (like cradling a phone between your jaw and shoulder, propping your face on one hand, sleeping on hard surfaces etc.)
Cost of Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ
The cost of Chiropractic treatment for TMJ will depend on how well your body responds to treatment. In most cases, if you have a health benefits plan through your employer, some or all of your treatment may be covered. The best thing to do is to check with your benefits provider to see if you qualify to have your treatment covered.
TMJ is a condition of the jaw and facial bones. In many cases, the pain and other symptoms of TMJ are due to an imbalance or misalignment elsewhere in the body. For a safe treatment option, consider visiting us at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage where you’ll receive natural and effective therapy.