Temporomandibular Joint problems(TMJ) or jaw pain occur mainly as a result of an imbalance with the joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head.
The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side and enabling you to talk, chew, and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw.
What Causes TMJ Problems?
- Receiving a heavy blow or whiplash
- Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Stress or Emotional Overload which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
- Biting down on a hard and/or thick piece of food
- Using jaw clenching to compensate for weak or inhibited muscles elsewhere
What Are the Symptoms of a TMJ Problem?
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth or chewing
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite
- Swelling on the side of the face
- May occur on one or both sides of the face
Other common symptoms of a TMJ problem can include digestive problems, toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitis).
As a Applied Kinesiologist and Doctor Of Chiropractic, I look at the articulation of the joint itself and the pull of the muscles such as the Masseter, the Temporalis, the External Pterygoid and the Internal Pterygoid on the joint itself. Neck muscles, hyoid muscles and upper back muscles also affect the TMJ. Are they in spasm? Are they weak? Do they need muscle spindle or golgi tendon work?
As a NeuroKineticTherapy practitioner, I ask if some muscles are compensating (or overactive) for inhibited or weak muscles. “The jaw muscles can compensate for weakness in the grip, in the neck flexors, or in the hip flexors.” http://neurokinetictherapy.com/do-you-treat-causes-or-symptoms-part-three
As the TMJ is part of the skull, the cranial bones are checked for alignment; esp the occipital bone at the back of the head.
Subluxations of the occipital also are involved with upper cervical (neck) problems and therefore cervical subluxations are adjusted
And since the examining acupuncture pts. on the head shows us that a number of meridians associated with digestion such as the stomach, small intestine and large intestines cross the TMJ can affect digestion (digestion can affect the TMJ), checking acupunture pts., the neuro-lymphatic and neuro-vascular points for digestive organs need to checked to see if there is any connection.
Once all the above are checked, then a very gentle adjustment of the joint itself can done.; a number of adjustments may be needed to break the subluxated pattern and get the Jaw joint moving freely and pain and noise free.
If you believe you have a TMJ problem, please give my office at call at 212-431-3724 for an appointment.
© 2013-Dr. Vittoria Repetto
© Revised – 2016 – Dr. Vittoria Repetto
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