When a person suffers from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), pain may radiate from the jaw down into the neck as well as up toward the ears. Popping or clicking of the jaw may occur while chewing or speaking. Also, jaw movement may be limited by stiffness. What causes TMJ pain? How can you find relief?
5 Potential Causes of TMD
While TMD’s ultimate underlying cause is still being questioned by researchers, there are a number of conditions that can lead up to the symptoms noted above. Here are 5 possible problems:
- Teeth Grinding – Also called bruxism, grinding one’s teeth can lead to chronic jaw pain.
- Arthritis – When someone hears the term arthritis, they often think of specific joints like the knuckles or knees. However, the jaw is subject to arthritis as well.
- Soft Tissue Damage – If the disc or cushion in the joint is damaged or moved, this will result in pain.
- Stress – Stress may cause a person to tighten his or her jaw leading to pain from the repetitive movement.
- Trauma – Especially trauma to the head or neck can lead to misalignments that result in TMJ pain.
Correcting the Underlying Cause of TMD
When an accident or injury occurs, the atlas (C1 vertebra) may become misaligned. This bone is found at the base of the skull and is in close proximity to the TMJ. As a result of a misalignment, the soft tissue of the neck and face can be affected, placing pressure on nerves and damaging discs. It is no wonder that jaw pain often radiates toward the neck.
Correcting the misalignment may relieve the underlying problem that is leading to jaw pain. Thus, TMD patients may find that pain lessens or even resolves entirely once the atlas is back in place long enough for the body to heal the damage done by the initial misalignment. Find an upper cervical chiropractor near you to have your atlas examined for misalignments and to receive a gentle adjustment if needed.