When talking about chiropractors, most people assume that they only can treat issues with the back, spine, and neck. However, these practitioners are more varied than they seem, and they can also relieve pain in your jaw. These professionals can relieve pain in your jaw, specifically your temporomandibular joint, a shared “sore spot” for many individuals through Chiropractic Treatment For TMJD.
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What Is TMJD?
Temporomandibular disorder or TMJD is a blanket term for inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. This joint is the one that connects your jaw to the skull. TMJD consists of different conditions that primarily affect your temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles, and facial nerves. For example, whenever you open your mouth, the upper ends of your mandible (jaw) on each side glide on the joint sockets of the skull — and go back to the original position whenever you close your mouth.
That’s where most people suffering from TMJD hear popping or grating noises in their jaw, making it easier to spot. TMJD is common, and causes are varied, ranging from grinding your teeth to nail-biting. It has a range of symptoms that include pain around the ears and jaw soreness. This broad range of symptoms shows how much your jaw muscles can affect its surrounding joint muscles.
That’s why it’s wise to take care of your jaw whenever possible. You can keep your temporomandibular joints healthy by doing regular jaw exercises, avoiding excessive yawning, or munching on hard foods.
Common Causes of TMJD
Many factors can lead to TMJ, including injury, physical stress, and psychological stress. There is no one clear cause for TMJ in most cases, but it often worsens with age or after a major life event.
- Trauma to the jaw
- Accidents that injure the jaw or face
- Infection in the jaw or face
- Botched dental procedures
- Mouth’s prolonged exposure to contaminated air
- Faulty insertion of breathing tube before surgery
- Jaw misalignment
- Bruxism or teeth grinding
If you’re experiencing pain in your facial area with no other observable medical cause, talk to your doctor about whether TMD may be causing these symptoms.
Most medical professionals can’t pinpoint the exact causes of TMJD, but chiropractors can help treat your TMJD even if they can’t determine the root cause.
Most individuals suffering from TMJD describe their symptoms as dull and aching that often comes and goes in their jaw and face. However, keep in mind that not everyone with TMJD experiences pain.
Regardless, here are the most common symptoms of TMJD to watch out for:
- Severe pain or discomfort in the jaw muscles
- Stiffness in your jaw
- Difficult in chewing hard food
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Grating of your jaw joints
- Locking of the jaw
- Popping sounds of your jaw joints whenever opening or closing your mouth
- The clicking of your jaws
- Limited jaw movement
- Vision problems
Can You Prevent Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
There are many ways to prevent TMJD, such as taking care of your teeth, doing exercises for the muscles surrounding the mouth, or getting braces if needed.
Some other things you can do include not chewing on hard items or biting down too hard when eating. In addition, don’t clench your teeth together for long periods because it puts pressure on the joints and causes wear and tear over time which could lead to TMJD.
According to WebMD, TMJ disorders are caused by “too much stress on one side of your jaw or an injury.”
So how do you prevent such a disorder from happening? First, you might say you don’t drink too much caffeine or alcohol because it will make your muscles tense. But this can be difficult for people who have jobs where they need to stay awake throughout their shift.
The best way to avoid this health problem is by reducing your stress levels as much as possible.
Here are ways you can do so:
- Stay physically active instead of sitting all day;
- Try yoga or tai chi;
- take up gardening or hiking;
- go out with friends more often
Chiropractic Treatment for TMJD: How Chiropractors Help
There are several ways chiropractors can help overcome issues with TMJD, and here are some of them:
- They can use adjustments to help mitigate pain and compression on the affected nerves in your jaws. This technique can provide immediate relief.
- They can identify tensed areas in your jaw and use manual therapy to alleviate the pain, helping your jaw relax while fixing the lockjaw issue.
- They can look for any sign of imbalance in your jaw muscles and use corrective exercises to give more support to the surrounding bones, ligaments, and tendons in your jaw.
- They can use spinal adjustments to improve blood flow and circulation throughout your jaw, providing more oxygen and nutrients to it. The added nutrition can speed up the recovery of your TMJD.
Instead of using medications or undergoing surgery, Chiropractic Treatment for TMJD uses manual therapy to help your jaw recover as naturally as possible. Doing it in this manner reduces your risk of experiencing complications and long-term side effects that usually come with TMJD. Overall, chiropractors can help you get better — and stay better.
Although there are situations where medications and surgery are needed, these practitioners can help you recover from your TMJD entirely without worrying about doing more invasive treatments. That way, you can enhance your quality of life in no time. Ask a healthcare professional if chiropractic treatment can be a viable option for reducing your symptoms regardless if they’re a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with others.
What to Expect During a Chiropractic TMJD Treatment Session
When visiting a chiropractor for TMJD treatment, they’ll usually focus on three key muscles: temporalis, pterygoid, and masseter. All these are vital for chewing and can directly affect your TMJD. That’s why during treatment sessions, besides the standard adjustments, practitioners will help you with how to do soft tissue work exercises at home. Doing that can loosen up the muscles on your jaws and face, reducing pain.
The recommended is usually three repetitions to complete one set of exercises for your TMJD. However, it’s best to do three sets at least thrice every day if you’re experiencing severe jaw pain. You must do these soft-tissue exercises to the key muscles mentioned, but doing it on your pterygoid can be complicated — and that’s where chiropractors can help.
After completing soft tissue work to alleviate jaw pain, practitioners adjust and assess your jaw using standard adjustments.
Alternative TMJD Treatments
Besides chiropractic treatment, other options you can go for are the following:
- Wearing a Nightguard – This is a plastic mouthpiece that you can use when you sleep, preventing you from clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth.
- Taking Medications – Doctors often prescribe high-dose NSAIDs to treat the swelling and discomfort associated with TMJD, and if stress is the cause of your condition, they usually add antidepressants.
- Eating Softer Foods – Doing this puts less stress on your mouth and teeth. Plus, it relieves the pain.
For individuals experiencing pain or discomfort in their jaws that seem to worsen whenever talking or eating, you may have issues with your TMJD.
Dr. Caroline Herring, a Chiropractor, Tallassee, Alabama, can help you address these issues by giving you appropriate Chiropractic Treatment for TMJD, helping you recover without taking a single pill or undergoing surgery — maximizing your recovery process. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at Herring Chiropractic to bring your life back to normal.