Do you often experience pain in your jaw when you chew or talk? Have you been going back and forth to the hospital because of persistent ear pain? Chances are, you have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. It’s a common problem that affects 12 percent of the US population. Sometimes, it affects adults with worn-out TMJ. On the one hand, some cases happen because of issues such as a bad bite.
Let’s trace the connection between a bad bite or jaw misalignment and the onset of TMJ disorder. Furthermore, let’s also look into some common questions patients have, such as “Can a chiropractor help with TMJ?” or “Do I need surgery to eliminate TMJ pain?”.
Understanding TMJ Disorders
If you pay attention to your jaw’s mechanism when you chew or eat, you will notice the TMJ connecting the upper and lower jawbones. The TMJ performs its function seamlessly in most cases, so you don’t experience pain or discomfort each time you move your jaws. However, sometimes they stop functioning as they should because of the following:
Damaged, eroded, or misaligned intervertebral discs
Basic anatomy classes taught you that you have discs or protective layer tissues between each vertebral bone. These discs minimize friction between the spinal bones each time you extend your neck and back. Unfortunately, as you grow older, these tissues also wear out slowly, causing them to erode, shift, or get damaged. In effect, you become prone to jawbone misalignment and TMJ pain.
Worn out TMJ cartilage due to rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is among the leading sources of pain and discomfort in the country. It causes chronic joint inflammation in several parts of the body, including those that connect your jaws. A 2015 study explains that RA seldomly affects the TMJ. However, when it does develop, it can cause unbearable jaw pain.
Joint damage because of a severe blow to the neck or head
TMJ disorder often follows a neck or head trauma, especially after a car accident. This happens because a powerful blow to your head or neck puts intense pressure on the TMJ and forces your jaw to open wide. In some cases, the pain dissipates a few weeks after the injury heals. However, sometimes the discomfort lingers and develops into a TMJ disorder.
Jawbone misalignment or a bad bite
Statistics showed that about 20 percent of the US population has a bad bite or malocclusion. Unfortunately, many of these people get diagnosed with TMJ disorder. They report varying symptoms, including chewing discomfort, earache, jaw locking, headache, and jaw tenderness. Sometimes, patients with malocclusions can relieve their symptoms by having their teeth adjusted by their dentists. You can also try seeking upper cervical care because it can do wonders in reducing the pain.
Relieving TMJ Disorders the Natural Way
Dealing with frequent flareups can be a frustrating experience, no matter how old or young you are. Just imagine feeling extreme bouts of pain when you chew on a steak or talk to some of your friends. It can throw you off or make you feel upset. Worst of all, it can ruin a perfect day.
Thankfully, patients nowadays can take advantage of effective remedies for TMJ pain. So, if you have questions like “can a chiropractor help with TMJ?” or “is surgery the only option for TMJ disorder,” our list of TMJ remedies below might help you a lot.
Acupuncture is a widely known natural and holistic remedy for various illnesses. It’s also a technique that patients use to feel less pain from their worn-out or inflamed TMJ. It involves stimulating the nerves to encourage the release of hormones that reduce muscle spasms and swelling.
#2. TMJ Exercises
You’d be surprised by how doing simple exercises can help you soothe your achy TMJ. And the best part is that TMJ exercises are straightforward. You can easily do them twice a day for the first few weeks. Some examples of these jaw exercises include the following:
- Goldfish exercise
- Chin tucks
- Resisted opening and closing of the mouth
- Forward and sideward jaw movements
#3. Wearing a mouthguard
Teeth grinding can worsen your TMJ pain, so it would help to wear mouthguards, especially during bedtime. The only challenge is to find a mouthguard that can do the job. We highly recommend looking at the quality of the mouthguard. Choose one that feels comfortable or have one custom-made for you.
#4. Upper cervical care
Besides the natural remedies we listed above, we also strongly recommend trying upper cervical chiropractic care. It’s a natural technique used by patients who have mild to severe TMJ symptoms. The chief objective of this procedure is to fix jaw bone or neck alignment to reduce the inflammation and pressure on your TMJ.
It’s a practical option, especially if you previously suffered from a neck or head injury. It can also work well if your problem stems from malocclusions or worn-out intervertebral discs.
Essentially, when you seek upper cervical care, you can check for C1 and C2 misalignment. Then, your neck chiropractor can provide ample adjustments to restore your cervical spine’s original curvature. This will help you ease your irritated TMJ and get rid of the pain when you move your jaw up, down, or sideways.
Thousands of patients who experience mild to severe TMJ symptoms find great relief through upper cervical care chiropractic. You, too, can enjoy this benefit as soon as you start consulting with your neck chiropractor.
Can a Chiropractor Really Help with TMJ?
Still not sure how upper cervical chiropractic can help you experience a life free from TMJ pain? Are you having second thoughts about seeking natural and holistic care for your achy jaws? Don’t worry! You can always clarify any concerns or questions with an upper cervical care doctor.
If you want to know more about the question, “can a chiropractor help with TMJ?”, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a neck chiropractor near you.