TMJ dysfunction is a term used to describe a range of conditions that cause pain and other symptoms in the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). A study revealed the connection between TMJ pain and whiplash-type injuries. This can help direct patients to the right form of care.
What the TMJ Study Revealed
60 patients who had suffered whiplash due to rear-end car accidents were evaluated over the course of 1 year. 34% of the patients suffered from TMJ problems by the end of the year as opposed to just 7% of patients in a control group.
The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body, allowing a person to chew, speak, and shift the jaw in various ways. When this function is affected, pain can become a part of everyday life. The study revealed that a whiplash injury could lead to TMJ pain, which helps draw a parallel between neck injuries and jaw pain.
Why Whiplash Can Lead to Jaw Pain
When a person experiences whiplash, the bones of the upper cervical spine may become misaligned. These bones are a different shape than the rest of the vertebrae and facilitate the majority of a person’s ability to move the head. As a result of this mobility, these bones are subject to subluxation during a head or neck trauma.
A misaligned C1 (atlas) can affect the jaw. This is why many TMJ dysfunction patients also experience neck pain as a symptom. It’s also why upper cervical chiropractors have a good success rate with helping patients with TMJ pain.
When the upper neck is back in proper position, the jaw can heal, inflammation may be reduced, and pain can be relieved. Upper cervical adjustments are designed to be gentle so that the alignment lasts longer and the body has more time to heal nerves and soft tissue. To learn more, schedule a consultation with an upper cervical chiropractor near you.