The temporomandibular joint or TMJ connects the mandible (the lower part of the jaw) to the skull’s temporal bone. Every TMJ chiropractor knows for a fact that these joints in front of each ear allow us to chew our food, talk, and yawn. For this reason, they advise the utmost care for the jaw joints.
TMJ disorders (TMJD) are due to problems with the ligaments and muscles that move the jaw. It can be caused by issues with the cartilage disc within each joint or issues within the joints. TMJD is a general term used to describe a collection of different disorders that can distress the jaw. The joints and muscles of your jaw are one of the trickiest parts of the whole body. Since these components contain a significant number of nerve endings, they can cause an immense pain level.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Various symptoms are associated with TMJD. It is due to how nerve pathways run and the jaw joints’ proximity to other neck and head structures. Numerous individuals with TMJ disorder frequently suffer from these symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Aches or discomforts around the jaw joints and face
- Clicking or popping in the jaw when chewing, talking, or yawning
- Bruxism or grinding of the teeth
- Locking of the jaw
- Sleep difficulties
Temporomandibular Joint Risk Factors
The jaw is a very complex joint that combines gliding and hinging movements. Since it provides a wide range of motion, it can be quite challenging to determine what causes the dysfunction or pain. The cartilage disc that allows the jaw to move smoothly may shift out of its correct alignment or wear out over time. Also, the muscles of the jaw may develop trigger points, thus, causing abnormal movement. Finally, the TMJ can also suffer injury or damage due to any of the following:
- Car accidents
- Sporting injuries
- Trauma to the head or neck
- Sliding or falling incidents
Also, here are other known factors that can increase your risk of developing TMJD:
- Stress Levels – Individuals with high-stress levels are significantly more at risk of getting TMJ dysfunction. Why? It is because stress can not only trigger people to clench their jaws. It also increases levels of inflammation in the body. Stress also interferes with the body’s average hormone balance.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop TMJ issues. At least 90% of individuals who visit a doctor for a TMJ issue are females. It can be due to many factors such as stress, hormonal influence, sleep disturbances, or anxiety.
- Bad Habits – People who frequently clench their teeth are more susceptible to develop issues with their jaws than those who don’t grind or clench.
- Other Conditions – Those with other joint disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, may also be at higher risk of developing TMJ dysfunction.
Natural Care Options for TMJ Pain Relief
Avoid Things That Can Stress Your Jaw
Many people may not notice that they may cause a considerable problem when small and regular habits add up. It can happen without us noticing it. Watch out for some of these habits that can contribute to your TMJ dysfunction and pain. These activities can indeed stress the jaws and its muscles.
- Holding the phone in-between your jaw and shoulder
- Biting your nails
- Constantly chewing gum
- Eating hard to digest food
- Yawning too long and hard (overextending the jaw)
Manage Your Stress
Reducing your stress can help relieve TMJ pain. How? Since there is no way we can eliminate stress in our lives completely, we can only minimize or manage them properly.
There is a link between TMJ disorders and stress. Therefore, coping with stress through meditation, practicing yoga, and breathing techniques will alleviate TMJ pain. Other ways include finding the time to relax and wind down after a long day, may consist of taking a warm bath, reading, listening to soothing music, or doing a hobby that makes you happy.
Do Regular Exercise For The Jaw And Body
When you gently move your jaw within its natural range of motion, it can train the muscles to work correctly. So you can start doing this at least once a day. It won’t take two minutes of your time to do so.
Open and close your mouth slowly, and do this at least eight times. Then shift your mouth and lower jaw from left to right slowly. Do this without forcing any movements. Do this at least four times.
If you do these jaw exercises regularly, you will be helping keep your temporomandibular joint functioning properly and healthy. Also, doing overall exercise is excellent to reduce your stress, bring more balance to your hormones, and encourage better sleep. These benefits can help you recover from TMJ pain.
Help Your Jaw By Taking Care Of Your Neck
Did you know neck pain is one of the most common symptoms that accompany TMJ disorder? Also, poor neck alignment and bad posture can contribute to issues with the jaw. It is because the topmost bone in the neck, your atlas vertebra, sits very near your jaw joints on either side of the face.
The atlas vertebra is unique for two reasons. First, it supports the weight of the head. Second, it is the most highly flexible segment of the spine, which allows the head various directions of motion. If the atlas shifts from its correct alignment, it will impact normal jaw movement and positioning. Also, it will cause excess pressure and tension in the muscles of the jaw and face. As a result, it can lead to TMJ disorders.
NUCCA chiropractic focuses specifically on how the atlas alignment influences the rest of the body. An atlas misalignment can directly affect the jaw function because of how close it positions to the TMJ. The atlas vertebra also protects the brainstem. The brainstem is an information superhighway and connected to the nerves that control the jaw and face muscles. Thus, if the brainstem becomes irritated, it can cause an imbalance of muscle tone and lead to incorrect jaw movement and jaw pain.
Have you been contemplating to visit a NUCCA TMJ chiropractor for your excruciating jaw pain? Every NUCCA TMJ chiropractor uses an exact and gentle procedure that will restore normal atlas alignment. If you suffer from TMJ dysfunction and pain, you may experience natural and lasting relief through the NUCCA technique. NUCCA TMJ chiropractor has specialized training to help people who suffer from TMJ disorders.
Find a NUCCA TMJ doctor near you today.