The TMJ (temporomandibular joint), is one of the more complex joints in the body. Acting as both a hinge and a slide joint, it is no wonder that this complex joint is the center point of a number of painful conditions. If you are suffering from a TMJ disorder (TMD), what do you need to know? We’re going to shed some light on several misconceptions that people have about TMD. Then we will share a natural therapy that is offering hope to the many people who deal with chronic jaw pain and other TMD symptoms.
Misconception 1: TMJ Disorder Is Rare
If you’ve never had a chronic problem with your jaw, it may seem like a rare condition, but TMD affects about 10% of people in the US alone, which adds up to about 35 million people. If you have TMD, you are far from alone. And if a family member, friend, or coworker is dealing with this condition, it is not some strange or unheard-of disease.
Misconception 2: TMD Is No Big Deal
A problem with your jaw is unlikely to kill you, so that leads most people to write it off as no big deal. But if you have ever had a long-term issue with your jaw, you suddenly realize how big of a deal it really is. Everything from eating to speaking can become painful and cause a person to lose joy. The symptoms can even lead to sleep problems, which have all sorts of additional health consequences. You may not die from TMD, but it can have a major impact on your quality of life.
Misconception 3: Everyone with TMJ Disorder Has the Same Symptoms
Besides jaw pain, there are a ton of other TMD symptoms, and many people have different symptoms. In fact, the jaw may not even constantly hurt. What are some of the more common TMD symptoms?
Jaw pain that radiates toward the ears or neck
The structures of the jaw, ears, and neck are all interconnected, so it makes sense that the pain would not necessarily be localized to the jaw.
The TMJ and the trigeminal nerve (facial nerve) are in proximity to one another. As a result, pain may occur in different parts of the face.
Neck and shoulder pain
Stress can be an underlying factor when it comes to TMD, and don’t forget where the body stores stress. Often it is in the neck and shoulders, leading to stiffness and tightness.
Headaches or migraines
The idea that your headaches and TMJ pain are unrelated, is another common misconception regarding TMD. They are far more likely to be linked to the same underlying problem, and both can stem from issues that start in the neck.
Limited range of jaw movement
You may not be able to open or close your jaw all the way, either due to the pain or because the joint freezes up.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
As the soft tissue moves to compensate for problems in the neck and jaw, the ears are affected. One indication of this can be ringing in the ears. This is especially common if your problem is affecting the Eustachian tubes that bring fluid away from the ears. The fluid can build up and lead to tinnitus, dizziness, or earaches.
Noise when the jaw is opened
This is one of the symptoms that people are most familiar with, but it can also be the most deceiving. First of all, the jaw can make noise even when nothing is wrong. Second, you can have pain and other symptoms without noise. Finally, if you have jaw sounds with your TMJ pain, it doesn’t mean you’re all better if the sounds suddenly stop.
Misconception 4: You Have to Get Surgery to Fix Your Jaw
TMD that actually requires surgery is extremely rare, and this drastic option should only be considered as a last resort. There are many invasive TMD treatments that a doctor may recommend, from injecting steroids to using Botox. Some medical professionals even prescribe painkillers, whereas an over-the-counter NSAID is likely to help more while you search for the underlying cause of your pain.
Misconception 5: There Is No Natural Source of Help for TMD
If you want to try natural solutions before you start taking pills, getting injections, or scheduling surgeries, an upper cervical chiropractor can help. You’ve probably noticed how interconnected the neck and jaw are from our previous discussion. Because of this, even a slight upper cervical misalignment can lead to problems in the jaw and ears as well as in the facial nerve.
In a case study involving five patients with TMJ pain, pain levels were significantly reduced after just one upper cervical adjustment. While the patients were only examined over the course of eight weeks and they were all adjusted by the same practitioner, the case study reveals the benefits that can come when an upper cervical misalignment is corrected.
If you are suffering from TMD, especially if you have neck pain or a history of head or neck trauma, contact an upper cervical practitioner to learn more. You can use the search feature of this website to locate one of our preferred doctors in your area. You may have just discovered a natural way to get help with your TMJ pain and other symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and tinnitus. It’s worth the call for even a chance of avoiding invasive surgeries or injections.