The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ is a small joint on either side of the jaw. The TMJ is a bilateral synovial joint between the mandible and the temporal bones. The upper bone near your ear is the temporal bone and the lower jawbone is the mandible.
When there is some sort of joint dysfunction in the TMJ is can be termed Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMD/ TMJD. This is an umbrella term covering the pain and dysfunction of the muscles of mastication (muscles that move the jaw).
TMJ Signs and Symptoms
Here are some TMJ signs and symptoms to help you recognize your pain and hopefully seek assistance from a chiropractor:
- Pain and tenderness upon palpation of the muscles of mastication or of the joint itself. The joint is located right in front of the ear, which is called preauricular. Pain is most common here and below the ear. Pain is the most defining symptom of TMD and is usually aggravated by chewing, clenching and yawning.
- Pain is usually dull or achy in nature, poorly localized, and intermittent or constant depending on how severe.
- Limited range of motion of the mandible. This causes difficulty with eating and even talking.
- Joint locking or stiffness- usually more so in the morning.
- Asymmetry or deviation of the jaw during movement.
- Noises from the TMJ during movement of the mandible.
- Clicking, popping or crepitus (grating) of the joint.
Other signs and symptoms have also been described, although they are less common than the above.
- TMJ Headaches
- Pain elsewhere, such as the teeth, neck and shoulders
- Bruxim (grinding of the teeth)
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Pain or pressure behind the eyes
- Sensation of malocclusion (feeling that the teeth do not meet together)
TMJ Pain Relief
TMJ is a musculoskeletal disorder because it is involving the muscles around the jaw and the temporomandibular joint. Chiropractic is known for being able to treat musculoskeletal disorders and offer TMJ pain relief. Dr. Megan Reed is an expert in treating the TMJ.
Some common treatments include:
- Chiropractic manipulation to both the upper cervical and the TMJ- either manual or with the activator (sometimes less is more with smaller joints).
- Soft tissue work- both inside and outside of the mouth along with the upper neck
Along with treatment we need to look at the a couple other things going on with the whole person which may offer TMJ pain relief. If the patient has been stressed lately then they could be clenching the jaw, which will aggravate the TMJ after a while. If the patient knows that they grind their teeth then getting a mouth guard along with treating the joints and muscles will help more long term. Another common issue I see is a weak core. If you are not able to use your core properly you could be clenching your jaw to get strength and stability in the activity you are trying to complete. If this is not evaluated and fixed in the office then the TMJ will continually be aggravated. Therefore, if you have already received conservative care for your TMJ and it has not helped then taking a look at these options would be the best next course of action.
Here at Peak Wellness and Chiropractic, we have treated several cases of TMJ with success. If you are having pain or discomfort in the upper neck or jaw area, don’t wait- call 919-249-6461 to get TMJ pain relief now!