What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint or the TMJ connects the jaw to the skull.  These joints act like a sliding hinge joint that moves every time you chew, swallow, yawn or talk.  There is also a disc that sits in between the skull and the jaw that helps the slide smoothly.  The TMJ is controlled and moved by very strong muscles and is one of the most active joints in our entire body with on average moving anywhere between 4,000-10,000 times per day.  TMJ  disorders or TMD can cause pain in the joint or in the muscles that control the joint movement or locking of the jaw.  TMD can also contribute to many other disorders such as migraines, vertigo, and tinnitus to name a few.

What causes TMD or TMJ pain?

There can be numerous different causes for TMD ranging from trauma to genetics.  Many dentists believe that the symptoms can arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw, the intra-articular disc or parts of the joint itself.  Some of the common causes of TMD are:

  • Grinding or clenching your teeth which puts a lot of pressure or strain through muscles and joints of the jaw
  • Movement or displacement of the disc in between the skull and the jaw
  • Arthritis of the joint
  • Whiplash or head injuries can cause injury to the joints and muscles of the jaw
  • Breathing issues in children can cause children to grind their teeth or misalign their jaws to clear their airway

What are the symptoms of TMD or TMJ pain? 

If you’re experiencing any of the below signs or symptoms, please call our team at Gonnet Chiropractic on (07) 3886 4300 to chat to our team about helping you relieve this pain. 

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw, particularly around the joint area in front of your ear
  • Clicking of the jaw
  • A jaw that gets ‘locked’ or ‘stuck’
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing or opening your mouth 
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw
  • Swelling on the side of your face around the jaw area
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Aching facial pain
  • Tired feeling in your face
  • Trouble chewing or feel uncomfortable in your bite- as if your upper and lower teeth aren’t fitting together properly

TMJ may also cause migraines  and headaches so it’s important to speak to a medical practitioner. Other less common symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, earaches and tinnitus and shoulder pain. 

Diagnosis & Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ 

At Gonnet Chiropractic, if you are experiencing TMJ pain, our first step will be to perform a comprehensive diagnosis to find out if the symptoms you’re experiencing truly stem from a jaw problem or another part of your body. To correctly diagnose, we will listen to and feel your jaw as you open and close your mouth, observe the movement and range of motion you have in your jaw, as well as feel the areas around your jaw for any tenderness or discomfort. In some cases, you may be referred to get l x-rays. With the correct assessment, we will be able to tailor a treatment specifically for you as each person presents differently with TMJ. 

Our treatment plans focus on relieving the tension in the muscle around the TMJ and may include trigger point therapy to alleviate the pain. However, if the source of your TMJ pain is due to poor posture, misalignment in your back or other similar causes, we may recommend a spinal adjustment. A spinal adjustment (or chiropractic adjustment as it is also known) includes a trained specialist (i.e. your chiropractor) using their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled yet sudden force to the spinal joint. 

Exercises for TMJ Pain relief

According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of Dental Research performing exercises for TMD increased the range of motion of the jaw more than just using a mouth guard or splint alone.  These exercises are tailor to the individual based on the cause of the TMD and its limitations.  These exercises are thought to help strengthen, stretch and relax the jaw, reduce the clicking of the jaw and increase the mobility of the jaw.  Because jaw pain arises from head injuries or whiplash many neck exercises and postural corrections have also been shown to help ease TMD or TMJ pain.

If you have cause to believe you have TMJ pain, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Gonnet Chiropractic on (07) 3886 4300. 

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