Helping TMD and TMJ With Chiropractic
By Dr. George Bobbitt
- Jaw (TMJ) problems?
- Can Chiropractic help with TMJ?
- Considered having your TMJ looked at?
It has been my experience in the last 15 years of practice that many of us have a condition that goes undiagnosed. This condition has been responsible for many of the problems that do not get resolved. These problems range from migraines/headaches, variety of eye issues, teeth problems, facial complaints, mouth/face/cheek and chin problems, jaw popping/clicking, ear pain/ear problems, balance/vertigo troubles, throat problems, neck and shoulder issues and even tingling into the arms, hands and fingers to name a few.
As the title suggests, that condition can be referred as TMJ, TMD and TMJD. Basically, this disorder is the result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing, moving the jaw and talking. The TMJ is a hinge joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side. Without these joints and surrounding muscles we would not be able to talk, chew or yawn.
What are some of the most common causes for this condition/disorder?
Before answering this, please know that identifying the exact cause may be easy in some cases and extremely difficult in others. The cause that initiated the TMJ problem is not as important as being able to identify and diagnose the TMJ problem promptly and accurately.
The most obvious causes for TMJ problems occur from blows to the face/jaw from, whiplashes, fender benders, motor vehicle accidents, contact sports, jamming head and neck activities, landing on the head etc.In fact, the list is long of potential obvious causes as you can imagine.
Less obvious causes for TMJ conditions could be grinding and clenching teeth. Most of the time this happens at night and we are not aware. Stress is another subtle cause in that it causes us to tighten our facial and jaw muscles. Even routine dental and orthodontic visits have been known to create problems with our jaw simply from having to keep our mouth open for long periods of time. Chewing tough food repeatedly, biting down on hard objects or having to open the mouth really wide can be other simple causes for causing the jaw to misalign and malfunction.
When the jaw joint (TMJ) no longer lines up and becomes misaligned the jaw loses function. Trauma or the above obvious causes can cause an immediate misaligning creating pain, dysfunction and non-use. Acute onset of TMJ dysfunction is less common than the gradual onset of TMJ dysfunction. It is the gradual onset that concerns me more because it is the most missed and under-diagnosed.
Here is why.
Repetitive stress to the jaw and the surrounding areas over many years creates a slow degenerative effect. Each trauma or injury whether large or small has an accumulative effect on the previous. The initial TMJ dysfunction starts out small and un-noticed, but gradually snowballs over the years. The body compensates the best way it knows how, but the compensation starts creating a variety of new symptoms. With each new symptom, a new doctor visit or new prescription or relief aid is pursued.
Until the problem is found, diagnosed and treated correctly, many may forever suffer and never know why. I encourage you to ask your chiropractor about the TMJ to see if it may have something to do with your unresolved symptoms and problems.
It is important to realize that chiropractors work not only with the spine and nerves, but also with the body’s joints, muscles and surrounding tissues. Since the jaw is a joint and is surrounded by many muscles and tissues, many chiropractors have become trained and are capable of working with the jaw joint and the conditions resulting from TMJ dysfunction.