TMJ, short for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is the inflammation of the temporomandibular joint which can be chronic or acute.
The temporomandibualr joint is the structure that connects the mandible to the skull at the base of the external ear. TMJ can be caused by a lot of factors which involve the over-opening of the joint, aggressive sliding of the jaw side-ways or forward. These jaw movements may result from parafunctional routines or disorders in the alignment of the jaw bones. Specific conditions that lead to TMJ include bruxism (grinding of teeth during sleep), defective crowns of teeth, trauma to the jaw, excessive biting of the nails or chewing gum, degenerative diseases involving the joint such as osteoarthritis, and eating too large food pieces that put strain on the jaw.
TMJ does not only affect the jaw, but surrounding tissues as well. Symptoms related to TMJ include jaw pain, dull facial pain, headache, migraines, ear pain, difficulty in biting or chewing, popping, clicking or grating sound upon jaw movement, hearing loss, tinnitus or ringing of the ears, dizziness, and pain on the shoulders and neck.
Because TMJ is very near the ears, pain on the area may be mistakenly identified as problems with the ear and face.
The conventional managements for TMJ include anti-inflammatory medicines, soft diet, warm and cold packs, dental treatments and sometimes surgery. Chiropractic care has been an alternative management for TMJ to avoid invasive procedures. Chiropractic managements resolve misalignment on the nervous system and spine thereby reducing pain. It also uses trigger points to realign the jaw and relax the muscles around it. Chiropractic care also prevents recurrences of TMJ and provides long-term relief from pain.
Chiropractic care for TMJ focuses on tension relief in the muscles around the temporomandibular joint. Trigger point therapy and massage works inside and outside the mouth to relive pain and restore joint function. A trigger point is a group of muscle fibers that connects to the affected area. Chiropractors manipulate these trigger points to alleviate pain. Dr. Furbee is experienced in finding these triggers and using them to alleviate your pain and symptoms.
The trigger points for TMJ include:
- Sternocleidomastoid muscle. This muscle is located on the lateral portion of the neck. This manipulation of this area reduces pain on the jaw, forehead and eye sockets.
- Trapezius muscle. This is located at the base of the neck at the back and is essential to relieve pain at the ear, jaw bone and temple.
- Medial pterygoid muscle. This muscle is located at the back of the molars. This trigger point affects the pain in the temporomandibular joint, nose, ear, jaw and neck.
- Masseter muscle. This muscle is located at the back of the jaw and the manipulation of this muscle relieves pain on the ear, upper jaw and forehead.
Chiropractic management of TMJ also involves the manipulation of the jaw through stretching the joint to release fibrous connections due to trauma. The patient may also be given specific exercises to enhance flexibility of the tissues on the TMJ. Chiropractic care is a complementary and alternative medicine technique to help patients with TMJ get relieved of the symptoms without undergoing invasive therapies.