If you suffer from a TMJ disorder, you understand the ways that it can affect day-to-day life. More than being just jaw pain, a TMJ disorder can limit your ability to enjoy a meal or even pursue a hobby like singing. It is important to learn all you can about your condition, so here are 10 things you need to know about TMJ disorders.
#1 TMJ Is Not the Condition
You may hear people complaining about having TMJ, but that fact is every human should have a TMJ. It stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint that attaches the lower mandible to the rest of the skull. That’s why you will see us refer to the condition as either as a TMJ disorder, TMJ dysfunction, or TMD.
#2 TMD Is More than Just TMJ Pain
When someone has a TMJ disorder, the jaw isn’t the only place that pain is felt. Other common pains include, neck pain, ear pain, face pain, and even migraines. Additionally, some patients experience pain as far away as the upper back and shoulders.
#3 TMJ Dysfunction Can Affect Range of Motion
Rather than just being a pain condition, TMD can also affect a person’s ability to use his or her jaw. Certain movements may be restricted. This can affect a person’s ability to chew or even speak.
#4 There Are Many Possible Causes of TMD
TMJ problems can be attributed to a number of different issues. One common factor is that the problems often begin following an accident or injury. While the blow may not necessarily have been to the jaw, injuries of the neck can also lead to TMJ problems which can explain why the pain is not focused just in the jaw.
#5 TMJ Pain Can Be Related to Bruxism
Bruxism, a fancy way of saying teeth grinding, can lead to jaw pain. This is a condition that is often related to stress. Besides jaw pain, bruxism can affect the teeth, wearing them away and eventually leading to tooth loss. If bruxism is the problem, the solution is often a combination of stress relief techniques and a mouthguard to wear to bed.
#6 A Temporary Diet Change May Help
TMJ pain is not always chronic. Your jaw may just be tired. Try eating softer foods for a few days. If that doesn’t help, then there may be a bigger underlying cause.
#7 Stress May Make the Problem Worse
Even if bruxism is not the cause of your pain, stress can still cause you to clench and release your jaw over and over. This can wear the joint out. So stress relief techniques are important for anyone with a TMJ problem.
#8 TMJ Problems Can Be Related to Sleep Issues
We’ve already addressed that someone with TMD may suffer from bruxism. However, this is not the only sleep issue related to jaw pain. In fact, TMD patients are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is unknown how the two conditions are related. In other words, researchers can’t figure out if jaw problems lead to OSA or if people with OSA are just more likely to have a jaw problem. Either way, TMD is equated with sleep problems and that can lead to headaches or even migraines – both of which are more common for TMD patients.
#9 The Source of the Pain May Be Your Neck
We noted earlier that TMJ problems often arise after trauma and that neck pain is a common symptom. These two facts together lead us to look to the neck for the source of pain. For example, the atlas (C1) is in proximity to the TMJ, facial nerve, and ears. Plus, a misalignment of this bone can cause pain in the upper back and shoulders. This quickly paints a picture as to how an atlas misalignment can basically cause all of the symptoms that are common with TMD.
#10 You Can Get Natural Relief from TMD
You don’t need to fight a lifelong battle with TMJ pain. Many have seen benefits through home care and other natural remedies. For example, you may get relief from simple things like:
- Eating softer foods for a time
- Not using your jaw as much temporarily
- Massage of the jaw
- Ice for inflammation
We also would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care. This is a natural form of healthcare that is finding success in helping TMD patients. What is upper cervical chiropractic? It is a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on the top two bones in the spine, the C1 (atlas) and the C2 (axis).
If you have never experienced upper cervical chiropractic, here are three things that set it apart.
- Precise Measurements – Diagnostic imagining is used to pinpoint misalignments to hundredths of a degree.
- Gentle Adjustments – Corrections are low-force, so that means you don’t get cracked and popped as you do by a general chiropractor. Gentle pressure or adjusting instruments are used depending on the practitioner.
- As-Needed Corrections – Once your atlas is holding in place, you shouldn’t have to come back every week anymore. Maintenance is based on how long your adjustments hold, so you can gradually space out office visits. That makes this a cost-effective form of care.
To learn more about what upper cervical chiropractic may be able to do for you, contact a practitioner in your area and schedule a no-obligation consultation.