TMJ stands for Tempromandibular Joint. Dysfunction of this joint can cause limited range of motion within the jaw and sometimes painful popping or clicking. The jaw is a hinge joint that is connected to the skull through 68 muscle pairs located in front of the ears. These muscle pairs are important to speaking, chewing, swallowing, and yawning, and are among the most commonly used in our body.
There is a disk in the jaw known as the articular disk, which separates the skull from the end of the jaw bone. Misalignment of this disk can cause TMJ disorder. This misalignment may be caused by stress, which causes clenching and grinding of the teeth, sometimes during sleep.
TMJ disorder can also be caused by missing or crowded teeth, or trauma including whiplash.
Up to 35% of Americans suffer some form of TMJ dysfunction.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder include pain and stiffness upon opening or closing the mouth, or a cracking, grinding or popping sound when using the joint. The condition creates significant wear on the joint and can have serious consequences for normal daily use of your jaw.
As chiropractors are experts in joint misalignment, they are well suited to treat TMJ dysfunction. Your St. Paul chiropractor will look at all aspects of your lifestyle and will review your history. X-rays can be useful to locate the condyle head of the jaw bone and check the positioning of the articular disk. Palpating the area also helps to establish the severity of the condition.
Treatment focuses on relieving tension in the many muscles of the jaw and possibly the neck and upper back. Adjustments to the jaw and neck will address the dysfunction and addressing the trigger points to area muscles may help as well. If stress is one of the causes of your TMJ dysfunction, certain exercises and relaxation techniques can be very useful to relieving the symptoms. You may also be asked to do some exercises at home.
The result of these treatments is usually greater range of motion in the jaw joint, which not only relieves jaw pain but the locking and popping, headaches, and neck pain. However, chiropractic care goes beyond pain relief and is often able to prevent TMJ dysfunction from returning. The combination of effective treatment options and the avoidance of medications or surgery make chiropractic care an excellent choice for treatment of TMJ disorder.
Chiropractic treatment for TMJ dysfunction