Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


While many people refer to jaw problems as TMJ, TMD is a more appropriate abbreviation since it refers to disorders of the jaw, whereas TMJ means temporomandibular joint and is in reference to the jaw itself. What are the symptoms of TMD? What can cause these disorders to arise? How can you find natural care for TMD? We will answer these questions and more in our article.

Common TMD Symptoms

Depending on the underlying cause of TMD is, there are a number of different symptoms that can occur. However, there are some symptoms that occur more frequently than others. Here are some of the most common TMD symptoms:

  • Jaw (TMJ) pain – Pain can be intermittent or chronic in nature. Pain may also radiate toward the ears or neck.
  • Neck and shoulder pain – As we will discuss later, this may be related to a potential underlying cause of TMJ pain.
  • Restricted range of motion – This can apply to either the hinge or slide functions of the joint.
  • Visual symptoms
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Face pain – This occurs if the trigeminal nerve is also affected.
  • Ear pain – The structures of the neck, jaw, and ear are all connected, which is why pain radiates, and the underlying source of TMJ pain isn’t necessarily the jaw itself.
  • Tinnitus – Ringing in the ears
  • Headaches – Chronic headaches or migraines often accompany TMD.
  • Sounds – A person suffering from TMD may experience a clicking, popping, or grinding sound when moving the jaw. However, noise when moving the jaw does not always indicate a problem with the TMJ.

Causes of Jaw Pain and Other TMD Symptoms

There are a number of underlying factors and conditions that can lead to TMD. Here are a few:

  • Injury – If trauma occurs to the head, neck, or jaw itself, this can lead to TMD symptoms.
  • Stress – Stress can cause a person to clench his or her jaw over and over again. This clenching can eventually lead to pain or a repetitive motion injury.
  • Bruxism – This is the technical term for grinding your teeth. Again, this may be related to stress, especially if you grind your teeth in your sleep.
  • Soft tissue damage – There is a disc that cushions the TMJ, and if this begins to wear away, pain can occur.
  • Arthritis – While this is more commonly felt in joints like the knees or hips, arthritis can affect any joint in the body.
  • Autoimmune conditions – Some conditions attack the joints and can lead to pain.
  • Overuse – If you have recently undergone a dental procedure that required your mouth to be open for a long period of time or surgery that required the insertion of a breathing tube, your jaw may be tired due to the unusual strain of being forced open for so long.
  • Neck misalignments – These can occur during a traumatic injury or be due to a repetitive motion injury. They can result in soft tissue damage and may also affect the ears and jaw due to proximity to these structures. Face pain is also possible.

Common TMD Treatments

TMD treatments often focus on jaw pain rather than on the underlying cause of the problem. For example, prescriptions may be suggested for stronger pain medicine if over-the-counter NSAIDs are not enough. Splints are used by dentists in an attempt to reposition the jaw. You may also receive a mouthguard to wear at night if you suffer from bruxism.

Surgical procedures for TMD are controversial and are not recommended unless you have tried everything else first. Trying everything may involve a blend of self-care at home, traditional treatment, and alternative therapies that are not considered to be TMD treatments.

Finding Natural Relief from TMD

If you feel like you have tried everything for your TMD but are still trying to avoid surgery, we would like to present another natural option for you. Upper cervical chiropractors have found success in helping patients with pain in this region of the body. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are located right at the base of the skull, putting them very near the jaw, facial nerves, and ears. Therefore, all of the soft tissue and misalignment issues that can contribute to TMD can go back to tiny misalignments in the top bones of the neck.

What is upper cervical chiropractic and how do practitioners of this chiropractic subspecialty correct subluxations in a safe and gentle manner? First of all, the focus is on just two bones, the C1 and C2. Since they balance the head, even the slightest misalignment causes the surrounding soft tissue to shift position in order to keep the head on straight. Second, because even the slightest of misalignments matter, upper cervical chiropractors use diagnostic imagining to precisely locate misalignments of a mere fraction of a millimeter.

Since we are dealing in such slight misalignments, we do not need the twisting and jerking motions you may associate with chiropractic in order to correct the misalignments. Gentle pressure or the use of an adjusting instrument can make the corrections in a low force manner. This ensures that upper cervical chiropractic care is safe and pain-free.

If you are suffering from TMJ pain on a chronic basis, we urge you to seek out upper cervical chiropractic care before submitting yourself to an invasive surgical procedure. This safe and effective form of chiropractic may be just what you need to remove the underlying cause of your pain and other symptoms.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.