I Have TMJ! ... TMD!

My Jaw hurts! Please Help!

Lately I have had people come in with jaw pain wondering if there is anything I can do to help. The TMJ (temperomandibular joint) is the joint between your jaw and your skull. The main reason for this joint is to be able to open and close your mouth properly.

TMJ bones

When there is pain in the TMJ, it is often diagnosed as TMD (temperomandibular dysfunction). Similarly to in the spine, there is a disc in this joint which tries to promote smooth movement. However, sometimes there is aberrant movement in this joint which can be caused by a few things. Common signs of possible TMD would include an inability to open your mouth wide, popping, clicking, locking, or muscle and joint tenderness.

A very common reason for TMD is due to the muscles surrounding the joint.

tmj-anatomy muscles.jpg

As you can see from the above picture, there are a lot of muscles involved with the TMJ. The main mastication muscles (chewing muscles) is the lateral and medial pterygoid, temporalis and masseter muscles which are found on both sides. If these muscles are tight on either side it may result in aberrant movement causing dysfunction. This could be a result of clenching or grinding your teeth.

Other reasons for TMD may be internal joint derangement where the disc is affected causing movement that isn’t smooth, or degeneration of that joint.

How to help it?

As previously mentioned, the most common reason for TMD is a muscular issue. So how can we treat that?

Chiropractors are in a very good position to treat TMD

TMJ treatment

Through a few different treatment options, chiropractors are able to treat TMD. These would include spinal manipulation to ensure the nerves and joints of the neck are functioning properly, TMJ mobilization, muscle work extra-orally and intra-orally as access to certain muscles is most effective if performed in the mouth, and acupuncture as well.

Other important things to note is that decreasing your stress level will decrease grinding and clenching of the jaw aggravating those muscles surrounding the joint. So massage therapy can be very effective as well!

If you think you are experiencing TMD, get it checked today!