Neck Pain

TMJ Dysfunction And Upper Neck Misalignments

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TMJ dysfunction: The temporomandibular joints, TMJ, are the lower jaw hinges that sit on either side of the head in front of each ear. They are responsible for the lower jaw opening, closing, sliding, and rotating. The TMJs are the most body’s most complex joints. The typical person uses them more than 5,000 times a day by talking, laughing, yawning, chewing, eating, smiling, and swallowing.

What Is TMJ Dysfunction?

TMJ dysfunction occurs when one or both joints become inflamed or injured causing pain and immobility in the jaw area. Because these joints are used so often and tend to be far more mobile than most other joints in the body, they can be prone to pain.

It is important that both joints work together because if they don’t it could result in more pressure on one joint than the other and this could cause the pain and discomfort that is associated with TMJ dysfunction.

What Are The Symptoms Of TMJ Dysfunction?

There are many symptoms of TMJ dysfunction and they may vary depending on the patient, the extent of inflammation or injury, and the cause of the dysfunction. The symptoms may appear suddenly when there is injury to the joint, or they can gradually develop over a period of months or even years. They may be mild and barely noticeable or they can be severe and debilitating. The most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Jaw pain when moving the joint such as chewing or talking
  • Popping or clicking of the joint
  • Pain in the face or side of the neck
  • Locking jaw
  • Headaches
  • Toothache
  • Earache
  • Clogged or “stopped up” ear
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

TMJ dysfunction can significantly impact a person’s quality of life because the pain prevents them from doing many things they normally do, and often the jaw itself simply no longer functions as it should.

What Causes TMJ Dysfunction?

Damage to the joint is the primary cause of pain associated with TMJ dysfunction. This can be the result of trauma such as:

  • Dental work
  • Sports injury
  • Getting punched or hit
  • Car accident
  • Slip and fall accident

Subtle movements done repetitively can also cause TMJ dysfunction:

  • Grinding teeth
  • Holding a phone between the head and shoulder
  • Clenching teeth
  • Nail biting
  • Gum chewing (excessive)
  • Eating hard or tough foods

How Can Upper Neck Misalignment Cause TMJ Dysfunction?

When the upper neck sustains trauma such as whiplash it can cause a misalignment. This can also cause TMJ dysfunction in a couple of ways. It can cause one side to work harder or sustain more pressure than the other, or it can put excess pressure on the trigeminal nerve. This causes irritation and inflammation.

When left untreated, the condition can become severe. The misalignment keeps the joints from working as they should because opening and closing the jaw pinches the disc. This results in painful spasms in the shoulder and neck muscles when the patient does simple, everyday activities like talking, smiling, eating, or laughing.

Chiropractic For TMJ Dysfunction

Chiropractic can be a very effective treatment for TMJ dysfunction, especially if it is due to neck misalignment. A chiropractor will perform spinal adjustments in order to realign the spine and neck, bringing the body back into balance. This will allow the jaw to work as it should, minimizing rubbing or friction in the joint.

The patient may also be told to apply heat, massage, and do special exercises for TMJ dysfunction that will help the joints heal and help to minimize the pain.

This condition is not always easy to diagnose so it is wise to talk to your chiropractor and get a diagnosis before attempting any treatment or home remedies for TMJ. Regular chiropractic treatment can not only relieve the pain of TMJ and help to heal it, it can also help prevent it. Your chiropractor can be a great ally in this endeavor.

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "TMJ Dysfunction And Upper Neck Misalignments" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

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