Hope For TMJ (jaw) Problems
Snap! Crackle! Pop! These are noises you don’t want coming from your jaw. Have you ever experienced tightness or clicking of the jaw with chewing, yawning or mouth movement? When this happens it can range from simply annoying (for yourself or others) to severe pain of the jaw, teeth, ear and/or temples. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. About 35% of the population have TMJ disorders, which is a dysfunction of the TemporoMandibular Joint, which is where your jaw connects to your temple. If it lasts longer than a week, you probably want to do something about it. Chiropractic techniques are a proven method to effectively correct the TMJ problem at its source.
The first step is to figure out where the TMJ dysfunction is coming from. Most commonly it will start due to tension or overuse of the muscles around the head and neck which can slowly get worse; or due to an injury (fall, whiplash or blow to the head). This can cause dislocation or misalignment of the jaw or TMJ disc which can slowly grind away at the joint over time causing pain and inflammation. Often it can also be responsible for headaches or pain referring to the upper neck and shoulders. Emotional or mental stress can also contribute to TMJ dysfunction. When people are under psychological stress, they may clench their teeth, which can be a major factor in developing a jaw problem.
What to do about it? Once your chiropractor has examined the area and determined where the problem is coming from, they can treat it by making corrections to the jaw alignment using gentle adjustments. In most cases the muscles will also need attention and massage therapy techniques will be used to lessen the stress of muscle tension on the area, which should give it a chance to heal. Even if there is long standing arthritis and degeneration of the jaw joint there is still much that can be done for reducing symptoms.
TMJ problems can interfere with life’s little pleasures like being able to eat, talk and function without pain. If you know someone who suffers from this, let them know that there is hope of recovery and they don’t have to just learn to live with it. Ask your chiropractor if you are a candidate for TMJ treatments!