Every Escondido chiropractor stands ready to help patients find relief from their TMJ pain and problems. Most often, when people hear the acronym TMJ, they think of jaw pain or jaw problem. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint.

TMJ refers to the joints that join the jaw’s lower part, known as the mandible, with the temporal bone of the skull. Both joints are in front of each ear. The temporomandibular joint gives us the ability to talk, chew, and yawn. It moves from side to side and also up and down. The jaw has muscles connected to it and the surrounding areas which control its movement.

The TMJ itself is a unique and complicated joint for these reasons:

  • The jaw can combine two different actions – gliding (to shift left and right) and hinge (to open and shut the mouth)
  • Made of two joints (one on each side of your head), but the jaw acts as a single unit. It isn’t possible to only use one side of the jaw – both always work together as one.
  • The temporomandibular joint has an articular disc that keeps the movement smooth.  This soft disc sits in between the temporal bone and the condyle of the mandible.  

When the jaw doesn’t move properly or becomes painful, then it can be a sign of dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJD.  The causes of TMJD are diverse and can include muscle imbalance and trauma to the joint (such as a blow to the side of the head from a sports or car accident). Sometimes, the pain can begin for seemingly no valid cause at all. 

The Four Major Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder

Here’s the list of the primary symptoms of TMJ disorder. Better ask the help of an Escondido chiropractor if you experience these:

  • Jaw pain

Pain in the jaw joints can be due to arthritis or degenerative changes.  When the muscles that control the jaw cause pain, it could be caused by clenching or grinding of the teeth. TMJ pain may originate from either the joints or muscles that are attached to the jaw to manage its movement.

  • Joint noises

Sounds coming from the temporomandibular joint can be grinding, clicking, grating, or popping. Grinding often occurs when the jaw moves sideways. Clicking usually happens when the jaw opens or closes. It may also be due to a momentary displacement of the articular disc.  Because you can hear noise originating from the TMJ does not necessarily mean there is an underlying problem. A lot of people experience irregular pain-free clicking of the jaw. However, when the jaw makes noises in conjunction with discomfort and pain, then TMJD is more likely to be present. 

  • Limited movement

People with TMJD may be unable to open their mouths fully. As a result, this makes chewing your food, yawning, or even talking very difficult. In a few of the most severe cases of TMJD, the jaw could lock entirely when the articular disc becomes displaced. Thus, the jaw cannot slide back to its normal alignment.

  • Referred pain

Many of those with TMJD experience some referred pain—commonly known as toothache, earache, headache, or neck pain. The jaw positions very close to the ear and the upper part of the spine, where it forms a junction with the skull. TMJD sufferers are also known to complain about pain over the temples or aching facial pain

Correct Neck Alignment: They Key to TMJ Pain Relief 

Sometimes, for those who are lucky, TMJ issues go away after using simple remedies like applying ice on the affected area or avoiding hard-to-chew food and eating softer food instead. Sometimes, in those cases, pain tends to recur. Most of the time, remedies only offer temporary relief because they only deal with the symptoms. Therefore, to have long-lasting comfort, it is vital to get to the root cause of the problem. 

An often overlooked cause of TMJD is a misaligned vertebra in the upper cervical spine. The way the atlas (C1) vertebra misaligns can directly influence the position of the jaw and how the muscle group that controls the jaw movement can function. It makes perfect sense because many of the most widely known symptoms of TMJD are composed of headaches, neck pain, discomfort in the jaw, and facial pain. 

Visit an Escondido Chiropractor Today!

Part of what makes Rickards Precision Chiropractic & Wellness well-loved by satisfied patients is the way we focus on upper cervical chiropractic care. A reputable Escondido chiropractor, Dr. Ray Rickards, pays particular concentration to the alignment of the head and neck. We know the value of proper alignment and how it influences the body’s ability to function at its best. 

Since the atlas vertebra sits very close to the ear, the TMJ, and other essential nerves and blood vessels, it may cause significant problems when it shifts out of alignment due to either normal wear and tear, or a neck and head injury or trauma. 

When a misalignment happens in this critical area of the upper cervical spine, high precision, and gentle adjustments are the keys to obtaining the best possible results. Once the upper cervical spine is in proper alignment, your jaw and the whole body can restore their normal functions. 

Many of our TMJD patients report that their jaws feel and work better following our adjustments. Many of their various associated TMJD symptoms also disappear under our gentle and precise care. 

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To schedule a consultation with Dr. Rickards, call our Escondido office at (760) 274-0564. You can also click the button below. If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.