The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of the jaw. These joints, along with surrounding muscles and ligaments, play an active role whenever we chew, swallow, or speak. When functioning properly, these joints cause little concern. However, for patients suffering from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD), the pain, stiffness, and general discomfort resulting from the condition can quickly interfere with regular functions.
It is estimated that 10 million Americans currently suffer from TMJD, with the condition afflicting more women than men. As is the case with most conditions, the nuances of TMJD vary from one patient to the next, from how the condition begins to the symptoms that manifest. For many, the source of TMJD can be traced back to teeth grinding or misalignment of teeth. However, there are others who may find themselves suffering from TMJD as a result of stress, poor posture, arthritis, or even excessive gum chewing.
Symptoms of TMJ
Patients with TMJD may not always realize the source of their pain. In addition to pain and stiffness of the jaw, TMJD can lead to other problems that may seem unrelated to sufferers. These can include headaches and tinnitus (ringing) or popping in the ears. Over time, these problems can compound, leading to increased discomfort, stress, and lack of sleep. Frequently, TMJD patients are referred to dentists to address possible issues of misalignment, sometimes with surgery. Muscle relaxers represent another common option. However, both have drawbacks and are not safe for all patients. Fortunately, chiropractic is another effective treatment.
How Can Chiropractic Help TMJ?
Chiropractic manipulation techniques are among the most effective tools for relieving tension in the muscles and joints and not only those located in the back or neck. Because the pain associated with TMJD comes from tension, a chiropractor is uniquely skilled to locate the source of this tension and apply gentle manipulation to offer relief. Additionally, due to its proximity to the cervical spine, a chiropractor can determine if issues relating to the neck are impacting the jaw in any way.
Chiropractors offer a holistic approach to healing. Patients will find that a chiropractor will be more open to alternative therapies which have proven helpful for their particular condition. In the case of TMJD, this alternative may be acupuncture. Studies have shown acupuncture to be a viable treatment for TMJD, offering long-term and significant relief from symptoms. Often, patients may find chiropractic and acupuncture available to them within the same facility, making for greater ease and effectiveness of treatment efforts.
If you believe that you are suffering from the symptoms of TMJD, do not continue to suffer. There are options for relief available that require neither surgery nor medication. For those located in the Greater Charlotte area,SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers offers two convenient locations and treatment options that include both traditional chiropractic and acupuncture.