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Can Chiropractic Help "TMJ"?

First, let's clarify what we mean by TMJ.

TMJ actually just stands for the temporomandibular joint - otherwise known as your jaw. When people say they "have TMJ" what they actually mean is they have "TMJD" - or temporomandibular joint disorder. Everyone has two TMJs. Not everyone has TMJD.

TMJD is characterized by pain, inflammation, and sometimes tension or popping noises in the jaw. It is most often worsened with things such as chewing.

As with any disorder, the treatment approach that will be most effective depends on the cause. However, in many cases of TMJD, chiropractic can be very helpful.

So, what are some causes of TMJD? There are a few common ones:

  • previous injury (i.e. fracture or dislocation)

  • motor dysfunction of the muscles controlling the jaw (if you want to get nerdy about the anatomy of these muscles, watch this video)

  • arthritis or wearing down of cartilage in the joint

  • structural problems of the joint (such as improperly formed condyle or issues with the articular disc - see below for bone anatomy)

  • dental issues (such as grinding your teeth or abnormal bite)

anatomy of temporomandibular joint

Other issues I've personally seen in practice include dehydration, magnesium deficiency, and upper cervical joint dysfunction. Both dehydration and magnesium deficiency can cause the muscles of the jaw to tense, which can eventually become painful. And movement dysfunctions in the upper cervical spine can influence movement dysfunctions of the jaw.

So, what can a chiropractor do to help TMJD? Depending on how the chiropractor chooses to practice (and what is causing the problem), they may try a variety of different approaches, such as:

  • myofascial release of the muscles

  • muscle scraping of the muscles

  • adjusting your TMJ

  • adjusting your upper cervical spine (top of your neck)

  • giving you exercises to help with muscle coordination issues

  • making nutritional recommendations

It also helps to see a dentist familiar with TMJD to co-treat on your complaint. You may need something like a mouthguard or have to address the alignment of your teeth.

If you're suffering from TMJD and want some guidance, book your appointment with one of our chiropractors today!

PS: Did you know that headaches can also stem from your TMJ? The more you know!

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