TMJ in Dana Point, CA
Natural TMJ Relief: a Chiropractor’s Perspective
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, the anatomical description of the jaw joint. At PCH Chiropractic we care for this condition called TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder with chiropractic care.
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, the anatomical description of the jaw joint. The TMJ acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorder is more accurately described as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).
There are roughly 3 million cases of TMD per year. 12% of the population will have TMJ at one point in their lives. It is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, second to back pain. Because it is a musculoskeletal disorder, chiropractic is very effective with TMJ pain relief.
TMJ symptoms include:
- Pain in either or both jaw joints
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Clicking and locking of the jaw joint
- Dizziness, nausea, and balance issues
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Aching facial pain
- Inability to open the mouth more than just a few millimeters
- Latching and nursing issues in infants
The causes of TMD are as varied as the symptoms associated with the disorder:
- Blunt force trauma to the jaw or head
- Bruxism which is the habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Dental issues can cause bite asymmetry and subsequent TMJ imbalance
- The birth process can cause TMD if the infant’s jaw gets stuck in the birth canal
- Postural deformity of the head and neck can affect TMJ balance
- Subluxation of the jaw joint
- Whiplash Injury can affect the TMJ
- Post-dental procedure strain
- Imbalanced postural habits of the head and neck
- Muscle tension
- Internal joint disorder, a dislocated disc, or a displaced disc
- Degenerative joint disease, like arthritis
How We Care for Patients with TMJ
At PCH, we take a four-step approach to caring for those with TMJ/TMD. Of course, we do this in concert with a patient’s dental provider.
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
First, we take a detailed history of a patient’s present and past health. We will also perform an in-depth examination looking at many different aspects of proper TMJ function. Because the brain controls TMJ function, we pay special attention to the neck region. TMD issues can often stem from improper alignment of the cervical spine (neck), causing pressure on the delicate nerves that control TMJ function. These misalignments are called subluxations, and our doctors are experts in detecting and correcting subluxations, especially those associated with TMD. We will also perform a functional assessment on the movement and function of the TMJ itself, carefully analyzing your jaw movements, range of motion, lateral deviation, and function.
Low Radiation Digital X-ray Evaluation
After closely examining the TMJ joint and the neck region that can affect TMJ function, we sometimes perform low-radiation digital X-rays to assess alignment and function fully. This enables us to see how your nervous system communicates with your TMJ’s respective muscles and bones and detect possible interference with this communication.
Specific Chiropractic Care
Specific adjustments are given to the TMJ itself and the neck region where nerves feed the TMJ joint. These are based on the findings of the previous examination, and only necessary adjustments are performed. Other areas of the spine may also be given specific chiropractic adjustments as needed. These adjustments can have lasting results because they work to correct the underlying cause of TMD by allowing your nervous system to function properly.
Specific and Personalized Exercises and Trigger Point Therapy
A personalized home care program is given to the patient that can include exercises, postural alteration, ergonomic correctness, and TMJ-specific exercises.
Common Symptoms of TMJ
This can involve pain with any jaw movement (talking, chewing, laughing, etc.).
It is commonly associated with neck pain and headaches. Chiropractic will help with the root cause of those symptoms, correcting the issue and not just the symptoms.
This can be caused by recent dental work, excessive stimulation (i.e., chewing gum), trauma, and joint degeneration due to long-term misalignment and malfunctioning of the joint. Correcting the misalignment prevents further degeneration and problems.
Jaw Popping and Clicking
This can cause pain but doesn’t always in every case. Sometimes it is just an annoying occurrence. Popping and clicking occur when the disc is displaced forward and is not between the bony joint surfaces. The TMJ also includes a disc that helps the jaw glide to open and close from side to side. If the disc is not positioned properly, the whole articulation can’t function optimally. Opening and closing the mouth causes the click or pop as the mandible contacts the displaced disc.
Lockjaw occurs when the disc is completely displaced forward. It prevents the mandible from translating forward to a fully open mouth. This is painful and limiting and can also decrease your quality of life.
Clenching can be caused by excess stress, anxiety, etc. It causes tightness and adhesions to develop in muscles around the TMJ. It contributes to and can lead to conditions like tension headaches. However, yoga, meditation, or other stress-relieving techniques can help decrease clenching.
This is often due to pain or limited range of motion from joint dysfunction or disc displacement. It can affect your quality of life as you may not be able to enjoy certain foods or communicate effectively with your loved ones. Difficulty chewing can be due to jaw locking (inadequate range of motion) or excessive muscle tension built up over time. We need to address the underlying cause (joint dysfunction, muscle hypertonicity), and this is where chiropractic is very effective at helping people suffering from TMD/TMJ. By correcting the cause of the dysfunction and the misalignments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can PCH Chiropractic help with TMJ?
Yes, the doctors at PCH Chiropractic will do a detailed evaluation of your disorder and whole body to find the root cause of the symptoms you are experiencing. Based on the results, they will perform gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments to restore the proper function of the nervous system and your TMJ.
What is the number one cause of TMJ issues?
Bruxism – the habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth.
How do I know if I have TMJ?
Seek the advice of an expert like the Doctors of Chiropractic at PCH Chiropractic, or consult your dental provider.
How do you know if your TMJ is bad?
Your jaw joint should never hurt, not even a little. It is always bad for you to have any issues with your TMJ because if left uncorrected, even minor TMJ instability can lead to more long-term problems. The TMJ is a complex joint and susceptible to degeneration if left in a state of imbalance. Early detection and correction of TMJ issues are very important, and our doctors can help you in any stage of recovery from TMD issues.
How can I heal from TMJ naturally and without surgery?
First, consult with a Doctor of Chiropractic. They are leaders in holistic natural healthcare. Their care is drugless, and many patients improve with issues like TMD without surgery, thanks to the effective techniques utilized by the chiropractic profession. Our doctors have over 40 years of combined experience in the care of TMJ and TMD and are welcoming new patients. If they can help you, they will. If your issues are not something that chiropractic care can help with, they will tell you and help you with the necessary referral.