Jaw pain is a common condition that affects many Americans every year. For some the pain can be a severe, debilitating pain and for others it is a mild discomfort. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that allows humans to open and close their mouth in order to talk, eat and drink. Many people are surprised that chiropractic care may be able to evaluate and help jaw pain and TMJ disorders. In fact, our Sioux Falls chiropractors have multiple patients that come in specifically for jaw pain.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is located just in front of the ear where the lower jaw bone (mandible bone) meets the temporal bone. There are 4 muscles that attach to the joint that allows it to open and close. TMJ disorder occurs when the joint has dysfunction that can lead to pain in the joint, clicking or popping on movement of the joint, or even a locking up of the joint. Some common causes of TMJ disorder include tooth problems, neck subluxation (misalignment), or jaw subluxation. When the TMJ has an issue the muscles that attach to the joint and control it may be tight also. This can also be caused by or even result, in jaw clenching. Headaches or jaw pain are frequent symptoms associated with TMJ problems. Sometimes the dysfunction of the joint can cause ear symptoms also.
Chiropractic and Other Treatment for TMJ
Commonly, dentists or orthodontists are the most common health care providers associated with TMJ care. They may provide a mouthguard or try to align the teeth better to help the symptoms. As chiropractors, we are trained to evaluate the spine and extremity joints to determine if chiropractic care may be able to help them. When a patient presents with jaw pain, we will ask questions to find out if anything caused the pain to start. We will also ask if any activity affects the pain and how long the pain has been present. A chiropractic exam is then performed on both the spine and the jaw. If spinal or jaw subluxations are found, we will then recommend a chiropractic adjustment. We may also massage tight muscles. After the visit we may recommend at home changes, such as avoiding chewy foods or opening the jaw wide for a day after the adjustment. If you or a family member are struggling with TMJ issues, we would welcome the opportunity to try to help! Please contact our office to schedule a chiropractic appointment.