What if typical, everyday actions like talking, eating, and just opening and closing your mouth were painful? Imagine trying to get through your day while constantly experiencing such pain! For example, eating breakfast, making phone calls, or laughing at your friend’s bad jokes hurts, with the pain being mild, severe, or anything in between. In need of an answer? You may have a temporomandibular joint disorder.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the point where your jaw attaches to your skull. It acts like a hinge, allowing you to open and close your mouth and chew. When the TMJ becomes painful, medical doctors offer treatments and medications. But another, lesser-known option is available to you — chiropractic treatment. So, let’s see what this non-invasive option brings to the table.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
The Temporomandibular Joint
The TMJ is the hinge-like joint connecting the jaw to the skull. It not only moves the jaw up and down but also from side to side and front to back. Cartilage and a shock-absorbing disk keep the joint functioning comfortably, so you can cheer on your favorite sports team, yawn when you’re tired, and enjoy a bowl of chips and dip.
TMJ Disorder and Symptoms
But when the TMJ is damaged, you’re experiencing a TMJ disorder. Depending on the severity of the condition and the cause, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the jaw, ear, neck, and/or shoulder;
- Arms or hands tingling or numb;
- Jaw tenderness;
- Muscle soreness or spasms;
- Grinding the teeth;
- Trouble opening the mouth completely;
- A popping or clicking sound when opening the mouth.
If left untreated, TMJ disorder can worsen from mild to severe and lead to chronic pain.
What is Causing My TMJ Jaw Pain?
The causes of TMJ disorder are plentiful. It is often the result of:
- An injury, e.g., accident-related whiplash;
- Clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep;
- A punch or blow to the jaw.
The damage may also come from an eroded disk or a disease such as arthritis.
Traditional Treatment for TMJ Disorder
Depending on the severity and circumstances of the condition, the typical treatment for TMJ disorder often involves:
- Physical therapy;
- Stress reduction;
- Dental splints and mouth guards;
- Eating soft foods that require less chewing.
Some patients also benefit from education and counseling on avoiding behaviors that promote the disorder. Surgery may be recommended in extreme cases.
Doctors may also prescribe medications. Anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants are common for pain relief. However, the relieving effects of medication are temporary, meaning that the symptoms eventually return, at times worse than before, and medications often come with problematic side effects.
The Chiropractic Choice
One thing traditional treatment does not address is spinal misalignment, which can be a significant factor in the development of TMJ disorder. After all, your head is sitting at the top of your spine and controls the movement of the jaw. A misalignment will put pressure on the TMJ, tensing and overworking the muscles.
The chiropractor’s specialty is musculoskeletal disorders, imbalances, and misalignments. Here at Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, we offer an alternative, highly effective approach to pain relief and restoration of full function. Our team of chiropractors, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, will locate the root cause of the problem and correct it through spinal manipulations — no need for medications or the side effects that often accompany them!
After a thorough examination, Dr. Doerr can adjust the jaw to restore muscle balance and relieve tension and pain. He may also need to adjust the spine if this is the source of the misalignment. In this case, the misalignment is probably also disrupting the functioning of other body systems.
In addition to the relief chiropractic adjustments bring, there are other advantages to this choice of chiropractic care. Compared to traditional treatment, chiropractic treatment for TMJ disorder is less expensive and less invasive — there are no appliances or surgeries. And as no medication is involved, you save the money you would have spent on prescriptions!
Research Supports Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ Disorder
There is research suggesting that chiropractic treatment is effective for treating TMJ disorder. For example, in one study, all the TMJ disorder patients reported a significant reduction in pain when treated by a chiropractor. On average, their pain scores dropped from 8.3 to 1.4 — a massive 81% reduction! These results are encouraging, and we hope to produce such results for every patient!
Ways to Prevent TMJ Disorder
Of course, the best way to prevent TMJ disorder is not getting it in the first place. You can lower your risk of TMJ disorder by taking a few simple steps:
- Maintain good posture: Use chairs with good back support, change your position frequently, and sit upright as much as possible.
- Sleep well: Sleep on your back and support your neck.
- Use cold or hot compresses: Use ice to alleviate swelling and pain and heat to improve blood flow.
- Reduce stress: Easier said than done, right? Try yoga and other relaxing activities.
- Exercise your jaw: Stretching and relaxation help with jaw mobility.
- Avoid chewing gum, hard foods, and taking large bites of food.
- Change bad habits like nail biting, grinding teeth, and biting lips.
Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating TMJ Pain!
If you suspect you have TMJ disorder, visit us at Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center. Our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, has served the community for over 25 years with the most cutting-edge, evidence-based techniques to ease pain and bring your spine and jaw back into alignment. We will get you back to normal as quickly as possible!
If TMJ disorder symptoms do appear, we are just an appointment away. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 298-7179 or (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601 are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog page and our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!