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Can Chiropractic Care Help With TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction)

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a common condition that affects up to 15% of adults, with a variety of causes. Because the TMJ is so vital to moving our jaws, TMJ dysfunction can have a large impact on our ability to function normally, including interfering with talking and eating. Because of this, people with the condition will be motivated to find a way to reduce their symptoms and get back to normal. A chiropractor will work with the joint itself and the surrounding muscles to improve its function and reduce the pain associated with TMJ dysfunction.

What is TMJ dysfunction?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, on both sides. It is an important joint that allows your jaw to open and close and move forwards and backward/side to side. When the TMJ is working as it should, we barely notice how much we rely on it. But for people with TMJ dysfunction, it can become painfully obvious just how vital the TMJ is as soon as it stops working.

Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • pain in the jaw, temple, ear, and neck
  • difficulty with moving jaw
  • jaw stiffness
  • clicking/popping/grinding when moving jaw
  • locking of the jaw when the mouth is opened
  • a change in the bite (i.e. the way the top and lower teeth fit together)
  • headaches

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

There are a variety of potential causes for TMJ dysfunction. It can be the result of a larger condition, such as osteoarthritis, that affects the TMJ. Or it can be the result of behaviors, such as teeth grinding. In some cases, it can result from structural differences that are present at birth.

How chiropractic care can help with TMJ dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction can be quite difficult to treat in a standard medical setting. In many cases, the treatments are often centered around the patient needing to stop doing things that could aggravate the condition, rather than treating the condition itself. For example, eating only soft foods, not yawning too wide, not resting your chin on your hand. Many patients find these to be too restrictive and become frustrated that the underlying root cause isn’t being addressed.

A chiropractor, on the other hand, doesn’t treat the condition by looking at the symptoms only. They will treat the condition by trying to understand what is causing the TMJ dysfunction in the first place and coming up with a treatment plan to stop the condition by addressing the root cause.

In many cases, this will be a two-pronged approach that focuses treatment on the affected TMJ as well as other treatments that address the surrounding muscles. If the TMJ is out of alignment, then a chiropractor can use a range of techniques to bring it back into its proper position, which will allow it to function normally again. The muscles that surround the TMJ will likely have become affected by the condition, so they will need to be treated if the TMJ will be able to function again. This can include treatments that reduce inflammation and muscle stiffness, such as massage, ice therapy, etc.

If you are dealing with TMJ dysfunction, a chiropractor can work with you to find out the underlying cause of your condition and to develop a treatment plan that addresses it. This will help you to become completely free of the condition, without having to place unnecessary restrictions on your life.

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