Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
Do you experience pain when you chew or open your mouth? Does your jaw click or frequently make loud noises? Or perhaps your jaw get stuck or locked as you open it.
Do you have pain or soreness in the front of your ear? If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, you may have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problem, which is thought to occur in 50 to 70% of the general population.
A case study suggests that chiropractic care can improve symptoms in patients with jaw symptoms due to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The TMJ is the joint in the jaw that allows you to open and close your mouth with ease. The TMJ is the area where the mandible bone (which forms your lower jaw) meets the skull (at the temporal bone) just in front of your ear. There are a number of muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues, which attach to and surround the joint and which are involved in everyday activities such as chewing, talking and breathing.
TMD is a universal term used to describe many conditions with different causes that result in pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and structures related to chewing. Between 10-40% of people experience TMD symptoms at some point in their life, but the disorder is more common in patients with auto injuries, whiplash, headache, vertigo, and fibromyalgia.
Researchers from Spain treated 15 patients with TMD using a multimodal treatment approach. Patients received a combination of therapies commonly used by chiropractors like thoracic spine manipulation, mobilisation with movement applied to the cervical spine and temporomandibular joint, and trigger point dry needling. After two weeks of treatment, the patients had significantly decreased pain scores, reduced disability, and better jaw range of motion as measured by maximal mouth opening. These improvements lasted for the two-month follow-up.
The findings add to previous research on manual therapies and TMD. Other studies indicate that patients suffering from both TMD and cervicogenic headache, after chiropractic care had better neck range of motion and decreased headache symptoms.
How Do I Know if I have TMD?
The TMJ is a complex joint that undergoes thousands of movements every day, over time poor movements patterns can develop, leading to dysfunction and pain within the TMJ leading to TMD.
Symptoms of TMD may include:
- Pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Presence of clicking, popping or grinding
- Limited jaw movements
- Facial pain especially around the side of the jaw or in front of your ear
- Ear pain, ringing in the ear
- Difficulty in chewing
- Locking of the jaw
- Neck pain
Common causes include:
- Poor dental alignment
- Increased Jaw muscle tension/spasm due to clenching teeth, overuse, or trauma
- Altered posture of the upper back, neck and head
- Incorrect pillows for sleeping/poor head/neck alignment during sleep
- Emotional stress leading to jaw clenching
- Trauma to head, neck or jaw
- Extra-articular (occlusory)
- Intra-articular aspects of the TMJ where the condyle end of the mandible and its attached disc articulates with the glenoid fossa of the temporal bone
- Muscles involved with eating
- Psychological overlays (central pain mechanisms)
The Spinal Centre understands jaw pain and we can assess whether your jaw is dysfunctional, and address any other musculoskeletal pain mechanisms that may be contributing to this condition.
Our personalised treatments are aimed at improving your jaw function, and reducing any functional impairment.
Call Us Today if your have any concerns about your jaw.
If you like this article be sure to visit the Spinal Centre website at www.thespinalcentre.com.au and view more content by Dr. Hooper and the Spinal Rehabilitation Team.
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