TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, which is characterized by an inflammation of the aforementioned joint. This join is responsible for connecting the jawbone, or mandible, to the rest of the skull, just below the ear.
While there are many causes and symptoms of TMJ, patients suffering from this condition can experience very different levels of pain, ranging from extreme to none at all. Sometimes, there is a popping or clicking with no pain at all, while other times there is acute pain with simple acts like chewing or talking.
Bruxism, or grinding of your teeth while asleep, is one possible cause that builds over time, or a sudden and forceful impact or trauma to the jaw can bring on symptoms almost immediately.
Usually in older patients, osteoarthritis can even be the culprit, wearing the joint down and causing misalignment and degeneration.
The problems aren’t isolated to the bone however, as surrounding tissues can be affected as well, resulting in seemingly unrelated symptoms like headaches, dizziness, ear pain, and even varying degrees of loss of hearing.
Treatments for TMJ can vary as wildly as the symptoms. Minor cases can be helped with something as simple as an anti-inflammatory, but the most severe cases may even require extensive surgery to fix the joint.
One such treatment that you might not think of at first is chiropractic care. As with any condition, surgery should only be treated as a last resort, and alternative and non-invasive options should be exhausted first.
Practitioners like Dr. Mohr, a Tampa chiropractor, use specific massage and alignment techniques to reduce the inflammation and release the tension in the areas surrounding the joint.
By manipulating several muscles around the area, including the sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, medial pterygoid, and masseter, chiropractors can not only help relieve the pain, but potentially get to the root of the problem as well.
Stretching and working the jaw through specific exercises can breakup fibrous connections that resulted from trauma, thereby enhancing the flexibility and restoring proper range of motion and function.