TMJ dysfunction, commonly abbreviated as TMD, is an extremely common health problem that is characterized by pain in the jaw and a number of accompanying symptoms. Many people simply say TMJ when referring to jaw pain. This is a misnomer because TMJ means temporomandibular joint. In other words, TMJ is the name of the joint that hurts, not the condition causing the pain.
Let’s discuss a few more facts that will help you to get a better understanding of what TMJ dysfunction involves. Then we will consider several natural ways to find relief.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
What are the symptoms that a person may experience when dealing with a TMJ disorder? Here are some of the more common problems. The good news is that examining the symptoms can help us to get closer to identifying the underlying problem and to effecting natural relief.
Pain or tenderness in the jaw
The jaw is a unique joint because it works in two ways. More commonly, we use it as a hinge to open and close the mouth. However, you can also shift your lower jaw from side to side, so it can act as a sliding joint as well. As a result, there are a number of things that can go wrong that will cause pain in the jaw.
The pain associated with TMJ is not usually confined to the jaw. discomfort can radiate up toward the ears as well as down toward the neck. This is one of the primary factors that can point toward the genesis of TMJ pain.
The TMJ and the facial nerve are very close to one another, so it is common for TMD patients also to suffer face pain. Since the three nerve roots stretch through varying parts of the face, the area where the nerve is irritated will determine where the face pain occurs.
Pain while chewing
Since chewing is one of the most taxing tasks we require of the jaw, this is when pain usually is the most noticeable. It may result in a person eating less due to the discomfort.
Inhibited range of motion
Again, the lower mandible can both open and close as well as shift from side to side. When something is wrong with the TMJ, this range of motion can be limited in either or both directions.
Noise when moving the jaw
Usually a popping, clicking, or grinding sound is associated with TMD. However, your jaw can occasionally make noise without there being a problem with the TMJ. You can also have pain without the sound.
These are some of the more common issues that arise when a person is suffering from TMD. You may have some or all of these symptoms as well as others that are not mentioned on this list. While doctors might recommend everything from anti-inflammatory drugs to surgery, is there anything natural you can do to relieve the pain in your jaw? Here are a few natural things to try before you take any drastic measures.
Finding Natural Relief from TMJ Dysfunction
Here are a few simple things you can do at home to get relief from mild to moderate jaw pain.
- Ice your jaw – Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is especially important after an injury. Heat sends more blood to the area which can actually increase inflammation. So if your pain is related to inflammation, be sure to use ice.
- Dietary changes – You may need to change your diet temporarily while recovering from TMJ pain. Eating soft foods can rest your jaw and allow it to heal on its own. This is particularly effective if the cause of the pain is overuse. You can also try using the jaw less for other activities like singing.
- Massage and stretching – Stretching the jaw and massaging it at the right spot can also help provide some relief from the pain.
While these are great ways to get relief if your TMJ pain is not that bad, a more serious or recurring case will require additional assistance. You can still get the help you need naturally though. Here is how an upper cervical chiropractor can help.
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Helps TMJ Dysfunction
When the top bone in the neck, that atlas, is out of alignment, it can lead to the symptoms noted above. Because the atlas balances the head, any misalignment results in changes in the surrounding tissue in order to restore proper balance. Proximity to the jaw, facial nerve, and ears can lead to all of the symptoms of TMD that we previously discussed. So how can you know if this is the underlying problem that is at the root of your condition?
After a patient history and physical examination, an upper cervical chiropractor will use diagnostic imaging techniques to locate a misalignment. Precise measurements allow for gentle and safe corrections. Once the atlas is back in proper place, the changes that occurred to balance the head can return to normal. This, in turn, can provide relief for the jaw, ears, and facial nerve. Some of our patients find that TMJ pain goes away and never returns.
If you would like to learn what upper cervical chiropractic care can do for you, use the search feature on this site to find one of our preferred practitioners in your area. A consultation may be your first step toward breaking free from jaw pain.