Chiropractic is one of the best treatments for back pain, neck pain, and headaches. What’s lesser known about chiropractors is that we also treat problems with your TMJ, often referred to as TMD or temporomandibular dysfunction. 12% of the population suffers from some sort of temporomandibular disorder at some point in their lives, second only to back pain. The mandible, the bottom part of the jaw, meets the maxilla, the top part of the jaw, at the TMJ, the temporomandibular joint, allowing the jaw to open and close smoothly.
TMD can present in a number of different ways from popping and grinding to pain or locking of the jaw to a misalignment of the joint itself causing the jaw to shift from one side to another or jut out while trying to open or close your mouth. This issue could be from the musculature or even from the joint’s disc which acts as a shock absorber for the jaw.
One of the most common causes of TMD is bruxism. This is when people clench or grind their teeth while sleeping, typically as a result of stress. Stress often gives rise to TMD or TMJ problems. TMD could also be the result of a trauma, an accident, a sports injury, a punch to the face, that can actually displace the joint’s disc, or arthritis or degenerative joint disease from clenching, grinding, an accident, or overuse.
At Kinney Chiropractic, we help to manage the pain in a variety of ways. We obviously recommend that patients avoid eating large pieces of food like bagels, sandwiches, hamburgers, steak, or foods that require a lot of chewing and opening their mouths wide. If the jaw is swollen or inflamed, icing the joint helps reduce inflammation. When you clench or grind, you don’t only use the muscles in the jaw, but the muscles in the temples and neck as well. This is why many of our patients find massage therapy, or even self-massage, incredibly soothing to loosen the jaw’s tight muscles. The most powerful tool available to chiropractors is the chiropractic adjustment. We are able to adjust the jaw to realign the joint and relieve pressure on the nerves and provide stretches and different strengthening exercises to help stabilize the jaw. Strengthening exercises help adjustments to hold longer and prevent issues from returning.