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Can chiropractic Care Help With Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

March 15, 2021

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction is relatively common and is estimated to affect around 12% of people at some point in their lives. IT TMJ dysfunction is resistant to standard treatments, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and orthodontal treatment, then the only option is often surgery. Chiropractic care can help to treat TMJ dysfunction in a non-invasive way, and can effectively reduce pain and restore function.

What is temporomandibular joint dysfunction?

The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. There is one on each side of the face and it moves like a sliding hinge to allow the mouth to open and to accommodate chewing movements. Between the joint and the skull is some cartilage and a shock-absorbing disk.

TMJ dysfunction is when there is a problem with the TMJ joint and the muscles that surround it. These can cause pain and restricted movements, which can sometimes come and go. Symptoms include:

* Pain/tenderness in the jaw
* Pain in one or both of the TM joints
* Aching pain in or around the ear
* Problems with chewing
* Pain when chewing
* Locking of the TM joint
* Clicking sounds when moving the jaw

TMJ dysfunction can also cause pain in the face, neck, and shoulder because of the muscle tension associated with it.

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

* Genetic factors
* Jaw injury
* Arthritis
* Chronic grinding or clenching of teeth
* Connective tissue disorders
* Autoimmune diseases
* Improper alignment of the jaw

How is TMJ dysfunction treated?

TMJ dysfunction is often treated using orthodontics such as dental splints, as well as painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Patients with TMJ dysfunction are also often told to eat softer foods. If these techniques don't stop the pain and dysfunction, then surgery is an option that can help to relieve it. Some people find these treatment options invasive or restrictive.

Can chiropractic care help with TMJ dysfunction?

Rather than focusing on orthodontics, chiropractic care approaches the treatment of TMJ dysfunction by focusing on the joint itself and the muscles that surround it. In this way, the root cause of the pain and dysfunction can be addressed, rather than focusing treatment on the outcome of the problem.

Treatment options focusing on the joint include manual adjustment of the joint itself in order to correct the alignment and to bring easy movement back.

Treatment options focusing on the muscles surrounding the joint can come in a few different forms, including:

* soft tissue massage of the muscles in the jaw, face, neck, and shoulder
* stretching
* advice about at-home exercise techniques
* trigger point treatment (including myofascial release and the use of instruments such as the activator)
* lifestyle advice
* relaxation techniques to help reduce or tension that could be causing jaw clenching

Chiropractic care treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction can help patients to reduce their need for painkilling and anti-inflammatory medications, surgery, and the need for restrictive lifestyle changes (such as switching to soft foods). It achieves this through focusing treatment on the TMJ itself, as well as the muscle surrounds it. Chiropractic care can restore proper alignment, and reduce muscle tension, teeth clenching, pain, and difficulties in moving the jaw.

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