Temporomandibular joint disorder (often abbreviated as TMJ, TMD, or TMJD) is estimated to affect somewhere between 5 and 12% of people. That makes TMJ pain one of the most common chronic pain conditions. While TMJ issues may be temporary for some, for others the condition is chronic. What are the symptoms of TMJD? What causes TMJ pain? Is there any way to find natural relief if you suffer from chronic pain? Read on to get the answers to these important questions.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJD?
TMJD symptoms will vary depending on the underlying cause, but there are a number of potential indicators. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Face pain that worsens when opening or closing the jaw
- Tenderness in the joint itself or the surrounding muscles
- Limited range of jaw motion
- Misalignment of the jaw
- Sound when using the jaw (often a popping or clicking sound)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Pain that radiates toward the ear or jaw
If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, then a form of TMJD is likely.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The reason why the number of people suffering from jaw pain is unknown is because many never seek treatment for TMJ pain. About 5% of people do, but it is expected that more than double that number experience problems at one time or another. Unfortunately, even if the condition seems to go away on its own, if the underlying issues aren’t detected and addressed, pain may begin again at any time. Here are some potential underlying issues that lead to jaw pain and the other symptoms of TMJD.
- Bruxism – This is the medical term for grinding the teeth. Hours of jaw clenching, whether asleep or awake, can lead to chronic pain.
- Arthritis – If the jaw becomes misaligned and remains so for some time, arthritis of the TMJ may set in.
- Dental issues – If a dental problem causes pain, this can often be felt in the jaw.
- Trigeminal neuralgia – This is pain that comes from the primary nerve in the face. It can often feel like jaw pain.
- Neurovascular problems – Issues in both the nervous and vascular systems can combine to create nearly all of the symptoms noted above.
- Misalignment – If the jaw becomes misaligned and is not opening and closing properly, pain can result. The jaw may become misaligned due to trauma to the head or neck.
- Stress – This can lead to bruxism or other underlying jaw problems. Plus, stress increases pain levels in the body making a person more susceptible to feeling even minor jaw issues.
There are also a number of chronic conditions that may lead to TMJ pain. Fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of other autoimmune or neurological conditions that can result in jaw pain.
How to Find Natural Relief from Chronic TMD
If you suffer from the above symptoms on a chronic basis, you may not be happy with many of the options presented to you. For example, wearing a mouth guard to sleep may prevent further damage from occurring, but it does little to correct the problem. Surgeries are invasive and can lead to the need for extensive recovery time. Medications may produce varying results and come with many unwanted side effects. And many natural forms of care just don’t provide the benefits they claim to.
For these reasons, we would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic. This is a precise and gentle form of care that is likely very different from any other form of chiropractic you may have experienced. What sets upper cervical care apart and how may it help TMJ problems?
What Is Upper Cervical Chiropractic?
Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty in the chiropractic field that focuses in the top two bones in the neck. These two vertebrae, the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis), are located right at the base of the skull. Thus, they are in close proximity to both the jaw and the ears. A misalignment can lead to many of the underlying neurological and vascular issues that affect jaw pain. How?
A misaligned atlas can put pressure on the brainstem. It can also shift the jaw out of alignment or even affect the function of the ears – leading to tinnitus, earaches, and vertigo. When the C1 and C2 are out of place, this can affect the trigeminal nerve. Such a problem may also affect the way blood flows to the head because tiny loops in these vertebrae called vertebral foramen are the path through which the vertebral arteries connect the vascular system to the head.
Upper cervical chiropractors use a unique method to diagnose and pinpoint upper cervical misalignments. Then, extremely gentle adjustment methods are used to render custom adjustments for each patient. When subluxations are corrected, the nervous or vascular systems may be restored to normal function. Jaw alignment may be corrected also. There may be pressure removed from the trigeminal nerve, the ears, or even the brainstem. This can help with many neurological and pain conditions as well.
If you have experienced a head or neck injury in the past, the likelihood of an upper cervical misalignment is high. To learn more, contact an upper cervical practitioner in your area. A no-obligation consultation may be your first step toward better overall health and well-being. And if the jaw pain is the result of an upper cervical subluxation, you may feel significant benefits right from the first adjustment.