Do you often experience jaw pain and discomfort? You may be having a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). TMJD is a condition that affects so many people in the world following an injury to the jaw. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the joint between your skull and the jawbone, is a very sensitive joint. An injury to it may make it harder for you to chew. Luckily, it can be treated not just by a dentist but also by a chiropractor.
What Are the Key Symptoms?
We’ve already mentioned pain on the jaw in the opening statements. It’s the main symptom for TMJD. However, it not only affects the jaw but also the neck, ear, and teeth. The pain may also extend to the back and arms. Other symptoms are:
- Jaw clicking – This happens when you either open or close your mouth. Your jaw, in this case, produces a popping sound.
- Restricted TMJ mobility – Some patients may have their TMJ temporarily locked and this makes it difficult for them to open or close their mouths. Others can only do it slightly.
- Bite alterations – Sometime, you may not feel your teeth when chewing. This is often because of dysfunction on one side.
- Hearing difficulties
- Swallowing complications
- Blurred vision
What Really Causes TMJD?
TMJD can be caused by several factors. Here are the main ones:
- Injury to the jaw – If you suffer a direct physical injury to the jaw area, you are likely to develop TMJD. It may be a nasty fall on the face or an accidentally hit on the jaw.
- Muscle dysfunction – If the muscles of the jaw are defective, TMJD can develop.
- Excessive chewing – This happens mostly when you chew gum for long.
- Teeth grinding – This happens mostly when you are asleep.
- Nail biting – This overuses the jaw and thus may affect the temporomandibular joint negatively.
- Teeth misalignment – This interferes with chewing and eventually affects the TMJ.
- Arthritis – Arthritis wears off your joints, including TMJ.
Are There Risk Factors?
Like most serious conditions, TMJD has several surprising risk factors. So, sometimes, the source does not have to be a physical one like an injury to the jaw. One major risk factor is poor posture, especially one that affects the neck. If your neck is restrained so much, there’s always the risk of this kind of pressure impacting the temporomandibular joint.
The other popular risk factor is stress. Stress increases muscle tension on your jaw. At the end of the day, this may affect the temporomandibular joint. The other risk factors are age, gender, and inflammations. It’s argued that women are the most affected, more so those aged 18-44. It has to do with hormonal changes. Additionally, the presence of chronic inflammation improves its risk.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Identifying the discussed symptoms is never conclusive. You need to see an expert who can diagnose the condition. TMJD can be handled by a general practitioner, a dentist or an orthodontist. These specialists will often resort to pain prescriptions. It can also be addressed by an oral surgeon. However, this applies to extreme cases.
If you prefer a method that is both nonsurgical and nonmedical, then the right expert to see is a chiropractor. While a GP and dentist treat the symptoms, a chiropractor treats the underlying cause. Once the core cause is treated, then the symptoms will easily be suppressed. Dr. Hinz at Cool Springs Chiropractic can help!
What Happens During a Chiropractic Diagnosis?
Dr. Hinz can perform different evaluations to check for TMJD.
- Physical assessment – The expert may inspect your jaws to determine signs of temporomandibular inflammation or any kind of abnormality.
- Posture evaluation – One clear TMJD sign is a head that is jutting forward. The head is not supposed to look that way unless it’s restrained by an underlying issue.
- Neck assessment – If you have TMJD, it’s likely that the effect will be felt on your neck. A chiropractor can help you with this diagnosis. The expert will observe your neck for issues like a low range of motion, earache, neck stiffness, and severe headache. These signs are suggestive that your neck is affected.
Once Dr. Hinz establishes that what you have is TMJD, then you’ll be advised to start treatment immediately.
What Happens During a Chiropractic Treatment?
Cool Springs Chiropractic does not just do TMJD diagnosis but also helps to treat the underlying causes. Depending on how severe your TMJD is, Dr. Hinz may use any of these techniques:
Chiropractic manipulation – Popularly known as spinal manipulation or just spinal adjustments, chiropractic manipulation is meant to correct misalignment on your spine. A chiropractor believes that it’s the misalignment that restricts your nerves around the temporomandibular region. Realigning the spine is one way of relieving the restrained nerves. Chiropractic manipulation is generally the first response action for severe TMJD cases. At the end of the day, it’s known to achieve the following:
- To relax the temporomandibular joint muscles
- To reposition the jaw
- To readjust the temporomandibular joint
Jaw retraining – Because of a TMJ, your jaw may have lost its efficiency and so you may not be able to chew properly. A chiropractor can help fix the issue by retraining the jaw to move as it should. It will be adjusted accordingly. This takes off pressure from the temporomandibular joint and significantly reduces TMJD symptoms. With a few adjustments, your jaw will be as good as new.
Myofascial release – A chiropractor is an expert who understands how your muscles need to feel and appear. So, if the muscles are looking tight and have stayed that way for long, then the expert will resort to myofascial release. In this technique, a pressure that is likened to deep tissue massage is applied to the tight muscle knots to soften them. It’s a very effective treatment.
Stretching exercises – Since the pain may be originating from the neck and back region, the expert may opt to stretch you a little. The exercises will be directed mostly on your back to target the spine. You have to remember that TMJD healing is dependent on a healthy spine. If the spine is not misaligned, then your immunity will be enhanced and you’ll recover from TMJD.
By treating the root cause of TMJD, chiropractic treatment offers an immediate and long-term solution for the condition. This is something that dentists and general practitioners do not do. They’ll just treat the symptoms when the underlying issue is left bossing your temporomandibular joint. So, if you are looking to treat and prevent TMJD in the future, then contact Dr. Hinz at Cool Springs Chiropractic today!