Many individuals experiencing symptoms of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) aren't aware that chiropractors can help manage these disorders. The TMJ is a synovial joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. Disorders of this joint can be caused by a number of factors such as whiplash injury, arthritis, genetics and clenching your teeth just to name a few. Some of the symptoms include pain in your jaw and the muscles that surround it, difficulty opening or closing the jaw.
TMJ disorder is a term used that encompasses synovitis, capsulitis, tendinitis, arthritis and myofascial involvement of the temporomandibular joint. A chiropractor can screen and help determine the cause of your TMJ disorder by taking a detailed history and seeing if your complaint is one of pain, popping, clicking or fatigue. A history of dental pathology, whiplash or direct trauma can be underlying issues contributing and/or causing the disorder. Following the history, your chiropractor will evaluate your mandibular gait, perform provocative maneuvers and palpate the temporomandibular joint and surrounding structures to help determine the cause of your disorder and properly select the most beneficial course of treatment or refer you to another medical professional if warranted. Such referrals may include a TMJ dental specialist or medical doctor. If chiropractic care is beneficial, a treatment course will be discussed and typically includes 1-2 visits a week for several weeks. The goal of the treatment is to fix the disorder which may mean continuing treatment even after the pain has resolved.
Manipulation of the TMJ is the treatment of choice for those patient's who have difficulty opening the mouth fully (closed lock) or closing the mouth fully (acute open lock). Manipulation may be unilateral or bilateral and may be done by hand or the chiropractor may utilize an activator which is a hand held device. For other disorders such as synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane) and capsulitis (inflammation of the capsule) the treatment consists of ice, avoidance of provoking maneuvers, analgesics, myofascial release and stretches.
For some individuals, misalignments in the spine can also be underlying contributors to TMJ disorder, so adjusting the spine can help reduce pain. The cervical spine (neck) is in close proximity to the TMJ, and seems to also be affected in most individuals with the disorder.
If you are suffering from TMJ disorder and have not found relief, chiropractic treatment may be a great option. Make an appointment with your chiropractor for a consultation and see if your case is one that can benefit from treatment.