• Dr. Mark Freund

How a Chiropractor Helps With Jaw Pain and TMJ Disorder


chiropractor discussing treatment for TMJ

Jaw Pain and TMJ Disorders: What Treatments Work?

TMJ disorders or TMD are known to affect approximately 35 million people worldwide! The temporomandibular joint, also referred to as the TMJ, is a joint that is responsible for connecting the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. This joint is located at both sides of the head in front of the ears, allowing us to open and close our jaw and enabling us to eat and speak.

It is important to understand the difference between TMJ and TMD. While the former refers to the temporomandibular joint itself, the latter is the name of the disorder associated with that joint. This disease causes functional disorder and jaw pain that affects the jaw bone as well as associated structures, including the teeth, gums, and jaw. The exact cause of the development of TMJ disorders varies from person to person. The pain can be due to a combination of several factors, including jaw injury, arthritis, and genetics.

Some individuals with jaw pain tend to grind or clench their teeth (bruxism); however, most never develop TMJ disorders. This disease doesn’t know age. It can affect young children, adults, and senior adults the same. In most cases, the discomfort and pain associated with TMJ disorders are short-term and can be relieved with nonsurgical treatment methods and self-managed care. In order to effectively manage and treat TMJ disorders, it is important to know more about the condition, its symptoms, causes, and pain relief methods. Here is a detailed guide to help you get started.


suffering from a jaw pain

Symptoms of TMJ Rupture

The symptoms of TMJ rupture include:

  • Jaw Pain

  • Jaw locking

  • Cracks in the temporomandibular joints

  • Jaw stiffness

These symptoms can further lead to:

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Exhaustion

  • Muscle Spasms

  • Fatigue

The dysfunction of the fifth cranial nerve that controls teeth compression, teeth grinding, and jaw muscles can also trigger jaw pain.


The only method to figure out whether you have developed a TMJ disorder is to get a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Your doctor can help you understand the root cause of your pain and help alleviate the symptoms associated with the disorder. As soon as you start experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact your chiropractor or doctor right away for immediate medical assistance. Read further to learn how the expertise of a chiropractor can help alleviate the discomfort and pain that comes with TMJ dysfunctions.


TMD Causes

The TMJ joint combines sliding motions with a hinge action. The bone parts interacting in the joint are separated by a shock-absorbing disk and are covered with cartilage, which under normal conditions keep the movement steady and smooth. There are multiple factors that may contribute to causing TMD, including strain on the cartilage discs, additional stress from severe injuries or accidents, injuries to the TMJ, and muscle wear and tear. Furthermore, if the TMJ is torn out, dislocated, misplaced, clicked, or popped, it can lead to excruciating pain.


Accident or Injury

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of TMJ disorders. If a person suffers a blow to their jaw or experiences a jaw-smashing accident, their temporomandibular joint can become damaged. Injuries to the neck, jaw, and head muscles can also be a possible cause of TMD.


Musculoskeletal Dysfunction

Musculoskeletal dysfunction can also cause TMJ problems such as joint pain, pain in the TMJ, joint stiffness, and muscle spasms. Excessive use of jaw muscles, excessive chewing, and teeth-gnashing can cause pain in the masseter (chewing muscle) and muscle cramps in the jaw.


Bone Deformities

Deformities such as congenital malformations of the jaw bone, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis can cause TMJ diseases. Conditions such as autism spectrum disorders and Asperger’s syndrome are also some of the structural issues at birth that can trigger TMD symptoms in adolescents and children.

More about TMJ

Some dental solutions to prevent TMJ disorders such as bruxism include sleeping uncomfortably with a bite plate. Therefore, if you have already consulted a dentist for your problems, it might be best to contact a chiropractor who can study your doctor’s treatment plans and history and perform a thorough check-up accordingly.

chiropractor examining patient's jaw

These experts aim to understand the specific condition of every individual and design treatment plans that are tailored to fulfill their unique needs. Once you have had some soft tissue work done for your jaw pain by a medical professional, you can ask a chiropractor to evaluate your jaw and perform chiropractic adjustments that are right for your particular condition. Your chiropractor will be able to help determine the root cause of your problem and help you manage pain.

Risk factors

  • Connective tissue problems

  • Teeth grinding

  • Existing conditions such as osteoarthritis and arthritis

  • Jaw injury

Managing TMJ Pain

Since chiropractors are trained to help patients manage TMJ pain and symptoms, they can help in a number of ways. These experts know how to manipulate joints to help restore movement and release muscle through the mouth. They can also help you understand what exactly caused the disorder and suggest and execute treatment plans accordingly. If you are looking to alleviate, manage and treat TMJ pain without consuming harmful pills every day, it might be best to consider chiropractic care.

Chiropractors start by alleviating dysfunction and tension in the spine. This practice eventually helps reduce the pressure on several nerves, reducing pain associated with TMD. Schedule regular trips to your chiropractor to ensure proper long term healing. Seeking chiropractic treatments can help patients eliminate and manage pain and gradually get back to enjoying a high-quality life.

Trigger Point Therapy

Chiropractors are professionals that are fully experienced in treating several types of jaw pain, including joint pain, muscle tension, and muscle spasms. They do so by working on loosening the tense muscles around the jaw and spine using trigger point therapy. The hyper-tensed muscles that cause jaw pains and aches are known as trigger points.

When the jaw muscles are imbalanced or overly tight, this treatment method works to help restore the balance between the TMJ muscles. Moreover, this therapy helps restore proper neck posture and reduce overall stress levels in patients. Chiropractors have a comprehensive understanding of TMJ disorders and know exactly how to manipulate the muscles to relax them. This practice can also contribute to pain alleviation in the shoulders, back, neck, legs, and hips.


Exercise

Avoiding practices such as overusing the jaw that can trigger pain in the muscles is one of the simplest ways to reduce TMJ pain. Executing TMJ exercises is an effective and safe alternative to using mouth guards to reduce pressure on the jawbone and move it freely. To keep the jaw muscles supple and smooth, you can massage the temple, jaw, and neck. Following are some exercises that can help patients alleviate and manage TMJ pain:

Chin Tucks

Start by standing against a wall. Then, pull your chin towards the wall, creating a double chin. Now hold the position for 3-5 seconds. Repeat as necessary.


Jaw Relaxation

Open and close your mouth while touching the roof of your mouth behind your upper front teeth with your tongue. Repeat several times.


Jaw Movements

Front-to-back and side-to-side jaw movements are great ways to alleviate TMJ pain. Simply place an object between your bottom and top front teeth, clench it while moving your jaw side to side. As you feel the exercise becoming easier, increase the thickness of the item gradually.


Mouth Resistance

Position your thumb under the chin. Using your thumb, apply pressure to your chin as you open your mouth. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds before you close your mouth.


Chiropractic Adjustment

While most patients suffering from TMJ disorders turn to doctors and dentists for treatment, some opt for chiropractic adjustments, which are known to be equally effective. This practice focuses on relieving the muscles surrounding the joint. Loosening the ligaments, nerves, and muscles around the joint can help reduce TMJ pain. Our team of expert chiropractors can correct the malposition of your nervous system and spine. They can also perform gentle spinal corrections in order to restore the normal position of the spine, correct spinal disorders, and eventually alleviate the pain associated with TMD.

treatment for TMJ disorder

Manual Therapy

Since too much stress can worsen pain in the TMJ, it is important to implement stress management techniques in order to make the condition better. Indulging in regular mindfulness practices and yoga along with getting the right types of therapies can help reduce and treat pain. TMJ pain is often followed by limited mandibular movement. Therefore, manual therapy can help provide rest to the jaw, reduce overall stress and ease some of the discomforts that come with TMJ disorders.

Actions that cause stress and pressure on the jaw muscles, including gnashing of teeth and jaw clenching, can also cause headaches and jaw pain. Consuming a soft diet can help calm flared up TMJ and ease facial pain. If you can feel your jaw joint becoming sore after you eat your breakfast, a quick massage might help loosen the surrounding muscles and reduce overall pain.

If you or your loved one is suffering from temporomandibular joint disorders for quite some time, it may be best to opt for a chiropractic approach to find the source of the chronic pain. Visit an expert chiropractor today to get all the professional help required to restore your jaw and alleviate any discomfort and pain associated with the disease. At Natural Care Chiropractic, we are dedicated to diagnosing TMJ disorders and prescribing the best possible treatment methods to patients to help reduce pain and ease symptoms.


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