Your Chiropractor Can Help Your TMJ for Relief ASAP
By Dr. Molly Casey
Although all joints in the body are important, the temporomandibular joint is especially important because you use it all the time -- even if you don’t know what it is. The temporomandibular joint is what moves your jaw. You use this joint to chew your food and talk. With as much use as it gets, problems with it can be debilitating.
Temporomandibular Joint Anatomy
A joint is where two or more bones articulate (or meet). The temporomandibular joint -- commonly called the TMJ -- is where the mandible (jaw bone) articulates with the temporal bone of the cranium (skull). The joint is located anterior (in front of) the tragus of the ear (the piece of cartilage that extends from the lateral aspect of the face). The joint has an articular disc (so the bones never physically meet), three ligaments (that assist in stabilization and function), and the pterygoid muscles (that move the joint). The main motions of the joint are elevation and depression (opening and closing), and the protrusion and retraction (pushing the jaw outward and pulling it back in).
When the TMJ isn’t functioning properly, it is most commonly referred to as TMJ disorder. Symptoms can vary. Some symptoms, include clicking while moving the jaw, headaches or neck pain, swollen and painful joints, and aching around the ear. It is also common that those who grind their teeth at night will be more likely to have TMJ disorder resulting from the unnatural tension and motion. Even extended trips to the dentist with long periods of open mouth so the dentist can perform work can be enough to irritate the joint, at least for a period of time.
So what can you do for yourself if you have TMJ pain or feel you may have a TMJ disorder? A great place to start is to head to your chiropractor. Chiropractic care focuses on the optimal health and function of the nervous system, which is your body’s communication system. The tool (method) used is the chiropractic adjustment. Although doctors of chiropractic primarily adjust spinal joints in order to remove any interference, the adjustment can be performed on any joint of the body, including the TMJ. The adjustment restores joint range of motion. When a joint doesn’t move through its full range of motion symptoms and disorders often present. The restoration of the joint motion through the adjustment often relieves the symptoms and disorder. Chiropractors may suggest use of other deep tissue muscle work to relax the pterygoid muscles, or natural supplements, to help decrease inflammation.
TMJ disorders don’t need to be debilitating. If you are suffering, there are options; if you particularly prefer natural approaches to your health and healthcare, know that chiropractic care may be a great option for you. Stop in to see the doctors at The Joint Chiropractic so they can help you help yourself.
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