Can you imagine being married to a person who never smiles and never changes facial expressions?
Well, a couple not only imagined it. They tied the knot. A 2018 news article featured a man from the United Kingdom and a woman from the United States who met online and fell in love. Both of them had Mobius Syndrome, a condition that causes paralysis in the cranial nerves. This condition has paralyzed their faces, making them unable to change their expression or even make the slightest smile. The news report states that less than a thousand people on the entire planet have this condition.
Other people find it hard to smile because of pain in their head and jaw. They have what is called Temporomandibular Joint Pain (or TMJ pain). Fortunately for them, it is not a permanent condition, and most of them now enjoy the benefits of chiropractic care for TMJ.
Let’s read more about TMJ pain, its symptoms, its causes, and how we can find pain relief for TMJ.
What is TMJ Pain?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is on each side of the upper part of the jaw. The TMJ is near the ear, where the jaw meets the skull. Each TMJ is covered by cartilage and has a disc (also known as the condylar disc) to reduce friction and provide a shock absorber effect. The TMJ functions like a hinge that connects the jawline to the head.
This kind of pain is not normally very alarming. It is not a very serious health problem, although the pain is uncomfortable. However, when a person has pain in the jaw, speaking may become harder, which is a major disadvantage at work or when doing other activities of daily life.
Unlike the couple who suffered from Mobius Syndrome and yet found love, most people rely on their ability to smile as a means of meeting people and making friends. The ability to smile is even more crucial for those in the service industries like front line professionals in the hotel and restaurant industry or those engaged in sales and marketing.
With TMJ pain as their companion, smiling, which should be free and natural, becomes more like a chore, a sacrifice even for those who have this condition.
Known Causes of TMJ Pain
Some of the most commonly acknowledged causes of TMJ pain include:
- Damage to the TMJ because of a blow or destructive impact
- Misalignment of the TMJ
- Deterioration of the joint due to arthritis
- Strain of facial muscles around the joint (for example, during the prolonged opening of the mouth when undergoing a dental procedure)
- Upper cervical dysfunctions, specifically in the C1, C2, and C3 (or the three topmost bones of the spinal column in the neck area)
Symptoms of TMJ Pain
While there are many other possible reasons why people feel the pain in their jaw, those who have TMJ pain share these symptoms:
- Facial pain
- Pain in the joint itself
- Difficulty in swallowing or chewing food
- Locked jaw
- Pain in the ears
- The entire jawline is tender or painful to touch
- Sound of clicking or grating when a person talks or opens the mouth
Sometimes, the symptoms can be so severe that a person loses appetite. He or she also begins to find eating a harrowing ordeal due to TMJ pain.
How NUCCA Chiropractic Works
The good news is that people with TMJ pain can get pain relief and have the ability to smile again. Many cases of jaw pain are actually rooted in a misalignment of the upper cervical spine. Also referred to as an upper cervical dysfunction, a person may experience pain when a misalignment occurs at the atlas bone (or C1 vertebra) caused by an injury, a traumatic impact or collision, and sometimes, due to autoimmune diseases or arthritis.
One of the benefits of chiropractic care for TMJ, specifically the NUCCA technique, is that the NUCCA doctor can explain precisely how the jaw functions and why pain is felt in the head and face. When a person who suffers from jaw pain has more in-depth knowledge about his or her head’s anatomy, how it works, and what needs to be done to get pain relief, the suffering is diminished. The information gives the person hope that it is not a permanent burden to bear. More importantly, those who suffer from jaw pain get to know exactly what needs to be done.
A NUCCA chiropractor carefully adjusts the C1 bone to restore its proper alignment. The adjustments greatly help in restoring the mobility of the upper cervical spine. Soft tissues are mobilized, and compression is relieved in the face and neck muscles. The result is the ability to have a more relaxed face and neck. Best of all, pain relief is experienced, and the mouth and jaw functions are brought back to normal.
Also included in the benefits of chiropractic care for TMJ is information on how to stretch the face and neck without causing unnecessary tension. To experience the benefits of chiropractic care for TMJ, consult with a NUCCA doctor near your city.