TMJ is the shortened name for temporomandibular joint disorders. It describes a group of disorders in which the connecting point between the jaw and the skull becomes painful and swollen. The cause of the disorder can vary widely. The bones of the joint are separated by a disc of cartilage to keep your jaw movement smooth.3 When muscles are irritated, joints are displaced, or if you have arthritis or another joint disease, the smoothness may be disrupted. Common signs of discomfort are popping, clicking, muscle tenderness, joint tenderness, or being unable to open your jaw as wide as possible.4 There are three main categories of the type of pain you may experience in this joint: 1) myofascial pain, or pain in the muscles that control the jaw and the connecting neck and shoulder muscles (this is the most common form); 2) internal derangement of the joint, or a dislocated or displaced disc; and 3) a degenerative joint disease, like arthritis, in the jaw joint.5 Things that can increase your risk of developing TMD are jaw injury, stress, or grinding and clenching of teeth.3
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of TMJ can vary widely from person to person, but some of the more typical problems are fairly common among most sufferers. These symptoms might include pain in the jaw, trouble chewing or talking, headaches, and neck pain. In some cases, the patient may also experience a bit of dizziness. Since other ailments can cause similar problems, it’s important to be seen by a professional.
How Can I Manage TMJ Pain?
There are conservative steps you can take to treat or reverse TMJ-related pain, including eating softer foods, applying ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movements, learning techniques to relax and reduce stress, and practicing gentle stretching of the jaw to help increase its movement. Spinal manipulative therapy, soft tissue massage, and exercises have also been shown to reduce pain and symptoms. Another treatment that has been proven to help is intraoral myofascial release, a technique we can use to release the muscles surrounding the joint, accessing them from the inner side of a person’s cheeks.
Call us to see how we can help manage your TMJ at Britton Chiropractic.