TMJ Pain: Why Focusing On the Neck is the Key for Relief


TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is a pair of joints positioned on both sides of the face. It is just in front of the ear, which links the mandible with the temporal bone of the skull.

TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorders) refers to conditions that may influence the jaw and cause discomfort, pain, and the failure of normal jaw functions. If the jaw is not able to function correctly, it can hinder your ability to chew, yawn, and speak. As a result, TMJD hinders you from your regular daily routines. According to statistics, up to 12% of people suffer from TMJD. Also, women are prone to it two times more than men.

What Causes TMJD?

  • Arthritic changes to the joint
  • Joint erosion
  • Displacement of the cartilage disc
  • Damage to the TMJ due to injury or impact

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Dysfunction and disorders of the TMJ can have varying symptoms for many different people. Here are some warning signs of TMJD:

  • Vertigo and dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Facial pain
  • Earaches
  • Pain and tenderness in and around the TMJ
  • Sounds coming from the TMJ (popping, grinding, clicking)
  • Experiencing a limited range of motion of the jaw (inability to open the mouth wide, or joint locking)
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain

Self-Care Tips to Ease TMJ Pain

If you are alone at home, and suddenly TMJ pain or dysfunction strikes you, here are a few self-care options you can do to relieve your pain and discomfort. Try them out and see if they can help you:

  • Apply An Ice Pack

When your TMJ has inflammation, try and apply an ice pack on the affected area. This method can help minimize soreness and also numb the pain.

  • Choose To Eat Soft Food

Eating crunchy, hard, or very chewy food can worsen the TMJ pain and cause damage to the cartilage. Any diet that forces you to take a big bite with a widely opened jaw (like a big apple, for example) can put a lot of pressure and tension on the TMJ. So choose soft and comfortable to chew food for a while because these will give the tissues in your jaw enough time to heal and relax.

  • Try Moist Heat

Apply a warm or slightly heated towel or compress to your aching jaw. Doing so can help relax clenched muscles and bring some needed relief as well.

  • Maintain Proper Posture

Be mindful of your posture. Avoid slouching at a desk or even while standing. Slouching can cause stress on your neck and jaw, which often leads to TMJ pain or dysfunction. Stand up straight, sit up straight, and always have proper spine support by using a lumbar cushion when driving or working in front of your computer for prolonged periods.

  • Have Time For Relaxation

Start using meditation and relaxation techniques. Many people who do this find temporary pain relief from their TMJD problems. Doing slow and deep breathing helps regulate your pain sensations. It also reduces stress, which is one of the main reasons why people clench their jaws or grind their teeth uncontrollably while they are awake or asleep. Breathing slowly and deliberately can aid in relaxation. Relaxed muscles of the face and jaw can mean relief is not too far behind.

  • Change Your Sleeping Position

When you sleep on your sides, it might help you avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. Also, make sure that you have a pillow that supports your neck. Thus, it will keep your head in a level (neutral) position, which can bring much-needed relief to a sore jaw.

The Solution to Natural and Long-Term TMJ Relief

Upper cervical doctors regularly help patients achieve long-lasting TMJD relief. There are several tried and tested reasons why upper cervical chiropractic care succeeds in this modern age.

Your atlas (C1), the uppermost vertebra in your spine, helps hold your head up and allows for its various ranges of motion.  The tips of the atlas vertebra position itself just behind the temporomandibular joint on each side of your face. It’s easy to see how a misalignment of the atlas can hinder the proper resting position of the jaw and trigger intense pain or dysfunction of the TMJ.

The muscles of the jaw receive their nerve supply from the trigeminal nerve – which branches off the brainstem carefully protected by the atlas (C1) bone. The trigeminal nerve transmits pain signals to the face and mouth, and at the same time, it activates the muscles required to allow movement to your jaw for chewing, speaking, and yawning. If the atlas vertebra misaligns, this nerve endures irritation, which leads to pain and reduction of muscular function to the jaw and face.

Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses primarily on the correction of any misalignments of the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae. The approach is that it measures each patient’s misalignments. Thus, any necessary adjustments are specific to each patient’s cases and needs. Therefore, it allows realignments to hold in place as long as possible. This gives patients long-lasting and sustainable relief.

Go ahead and seek help from the nearest upper cervical chiropractor near your area. This step can help you begin your journey towards a safe, natural, and long-lasting TMJD relief.

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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.