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Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction a.k.a. myofascial pain disorder is a surprisingly common complaint. At best TMJ problems can cause annoying and sometimes painful clicking. At it’s worst, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can cause painful headaches.
How can I tell if it’s TMJ?
TMJ dysfunction often presents with a dull, aching pain in and around the ear. In some cases, the pain travels to the side of the scalp, back of the head or down into the neck. Tenderness in the jaw area and neck is common
TMJ dysfunction is often made worse by chewing, excessive talking or yawning.
What causes TMJ dysfunction?
TMJ dysfunction rarely has a single defining cause. Instead, it is usually the result of several contributing factors including:
- Degenerative joint disease affecting the jaw can cause motion issues and pain.
- Stress and associated grinding of teeth can cause extreme jaw pain and headaches.
- A history of trauma involving the jaw can also play a role in TMJ dysfunction.
Often it is a combination of all of these factors that leads to TMJ dysfunction.
How do you treat TMJ?
Chiropractors can provide significant relief of the pain caused by TMJ dysfunction by manipulation.
Unfortunately, most people are unaware that the jaw can be adjusted.
Adjusting the jaw is a delicate procedure that requires a skilled hand using a very light technique or gentle chiropractic care. Because of the finesse involved, there usually isn’t the satisfying “clunk” which accompanies many other joint manipulations.
A series of TMJ adjustments by a skilled chiropractor can be the determining factor in whether concurrent TMJ therapies are able to provide long term relief.
Reducing muscle spasms is another important part of chiropractic treatment of TMJ dysfunction which is key in helping to reduce the associated headaches almost immediately.
TMJ dysfunction pain often affects other nearby areas , and effective chiropractic treatment includes reducing the spasm in other affected areas including the muscles of the neck, shoulders and face.
The muscle spasms associated with TMJ dysfunction must be directly addressed to achieve long term relief of TMJ headaches and pain. Muscle spasm reduction and release is achieved by using trigger point therapy, a temporarily uncomfortable but very effective form of muscle release.
The Role of Stress Reduction
A third often overlooked but very important component in treating TMJ dysfunction and associated headaches is stress reduction.
Many TMJ headache sufferers clench and grind their teeth subconsciously as a reaction to stress. This relentless clenching and grinding can contribute to the development TMJ pain/headaches.
You can mitigate teeth clenching and grinding with a mouth piece but to achieve long term pain relief it must be used with relaxation techniques for long term success.
If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms or headaches and wish to discuss your treatments options please call 855-509-5400 to schedule your appointment goday.