What symptoms can you expect during a TMJ flare-up? What causes a recurrence? Can a TMJ chiropractor, such as a NUCCA practitioner, help your TMJ disorder? We are going to address the answers to these questions and more in our article today.
An ailment that affects the jaw would fall into the category of a TMJ disorder. This is why the problem is so common. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the hinge that holds the lower mandible to the rest of the skull, and it attaches on both sides of the face. Besides being a hinge joint, the TMJ can also slide from side to side. This provides us with a full range of motion that we need to speak, chew, and perform other vital tasks.
If you are living with a TMJ disorder, then you probably realize the pain is not constant. After several days of symptoms, you may go weeks or even longer where you feel fine. However, unless the underlying problem resolves, you are sure to experience a TMJ flare-up eventually.
What Are the Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder?
If you are living with a TMJ disorder, what can you expect during a flare-up of symptoms? Here are some of the more common effects that are related to TMJ problems.
- Pain, tenderness, or swelling in the jaw
- A warm feeling around the jaw joint
- A stiff jaw or a limited range of motion
- Pain in the ear
- Pain in the neck
- A clicking or grinding sound when you open and close your jaw
- Chronic headaches
What may trigger these recurring symptoms?
Four Times You Can Expect a TMJ Flare-Up
There are many underlying triggers for a flare-up of symptoms. Here are four of the most common ones:
- Stress – Stress can lead to increased inflammation in the body. This swelling can trigger problems with the TMJ. Also, stress can lead to clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth (bruxism), which are conditions that are associated with TMJ pain.
- Overuse – Do you often eat hard foods? Do you open your mouth wide to sing or yell? You may end up with a resurgence in symptoms due to the overuse of the jaw.
- Trauma – An injury to the head or neck or directly to the jaw can lead to a recurrence of symptoms. Keep in mind that the injury may have caused new problems, or it may have simply exacerbated an existing problem. A TMJ chiropractor may be able to help you identify how the trauma relates to the jaw issues.
- Post medical care – Following dental work that requires having your mouth stretched wide for an extended period of time, you may see a resurgence in your TMJ symptoms. This can also happen after you have had a breathing tube inserted for some time as may occur during surgery or if you were in the ICU with COVID-19.
These are the main things that may cause a flare-up to occur. Keep in mind that if your TMJ disorder is due to wear and tear (as is the case with arthritis), you may experience flare-ups more often as the wear grows worse. Things like using proper posture can reduce the progression of arthritis in the neck and back as well as in the jaw.
When you do experience a flare-up of symptoms, how long can you expect them to last?
How Long Do TMJ Flare-Ups Last?
The length of time that a recurrence will last depends on several factors, including the cause, trigger, and severity of the condition. While some flare-ups are over in hours, others can go on for days or even longer. If left untreated, a severe TMJ disorder can become chronic.
Each case is different, so it is crucial to identify the underlying factors that are contributing to TMJ dysfunction. If the condition is cared for properly, the frequency and severity of flare-ups should be reduced or completely eliminated.
This brings us back to the idea of finding a TMJ chiropractor to take a look at the connection between your jaw problems and your neck. How can a chiropractor help, depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ problems?
Getting Help from a TMJ Chiropractor
A TMJ chiropractor doesn’t necessarily specialize in adjusting the jaw. The fact of the matter is that the jaw is linked to the neck through all sorts of connective tissue and nerves. This is why TMJ pain may radiate from the neck to the ears, which are also in proximity to the jaw joint.
Of course, if your jaw pain is stress-related, you will have to find ways to reduce or eliminate stress in order to ease the pain. If your jaw problems stem from a dental issue, you may need a dentist’s help to correct the problem.
However, many TMJ causes relate to the neck, and that is why upper cervical chiropractors are in a good position to help with TMJ. NUCCA is a gentle form of upper cervical chiropractic that involves precise adjustments based on specific calculations. These adjustments are custom-fit to each patient, so you get the accurate alignment your body needs to have good neck health. This can help your posture and the jaw problems that stem from postural issues. Use the search feature on this site to locate a certified NUCCA practitioner near you.