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TMJ Syndrome & Jaw Problems
"TMJ" stands for temporomandular joint and is also commonly known as the jaw joint on either side of the head. This joint normally will glide open when the jaw is lowered and will glide back upwards as the jaw is raised. This motion normally should be smooth and even on both sides. If the jaw deviates more to one side and then the other, or if there is either "cracking", "popping", or pain then it is likely you are suffering from a condition known as TMJ Syndrome.
TMJ Syndrome can cause any of the following symptoms: jaw pain, neck pain, headache, ringing in the ears, burning in the side of the face, cracking and popping in the jaw, and a lack of normal jaw motion. While there are several treatments for TMJ syndrome, few provide lasting or definite benefit. Many patients that report to our office with TMJ syndrome having tried medication, splints, surgery, and / or physical therapy. However, once the individual learns what TMJ syndrome is really caused by certain treatments will become more logical than others.
TMJ dysfunction can be caused or aggravated by any of the following: emotional stress, toxic environment / diet, and / or jaw / neck / spinal injury, poor posture, etc. When the TMJ joint is either injured or aggravated it can cause the joint to move out of it normal position and it can lose normal motion as well. When this happens, nerves nearby are aggravated (such as the trigeminal nerve) and this can lead to facial pain, ringing in the ears, headaches, and other health problems. Muscles that support the joint will "tighten up" in an effort to splint or protect the joint from further injury. If this situation goes on long enough, cartilage in the joint ("the disc") can become torn or displaced as well.
Other factors that complicate or lead to TMJ problems are poor posture and a syndrome known as forward head posture (FHP). It is estimated that 80% Americans or more suffer from poor posture. Most of this is due to sedentary occupations and lifestyle with lots of sitting. Over time, poor posture takes it toll on the body. Shoulders begin to roll forward, the neck loses it natural arc of life, and the head is carried in front of the body instead of being positioned over the shoulders. This leads to a pulling on the fascia (outer muscle covering) of the neck and will pull on the jaw as well. This can cause the jaw to open improperly and over time will cause jaw joint damage. Fortunately, there is a solution for many TMJ syndrome sufferers.
Our Clinic utilizes a multifaceted approach when diagnosing and treating you TMJ problems. The methods used in our Columbia, MO office by Dr. Johnson are as follows:
Specific Chiropractic Adjustments: Chiropractic care is not just for the back. Dr. Johnson will assess your jaw's motion pattern and will be able to accurately determine which way your jaw joints have become locked up and misaligned. The process of a joint becoming locked up and misaligned is known as "subluxation". Subluxations are corrected with low-force chiropractic adjustment via an instrument known as the activator in the jaw region. Even the most severe cases of TMJ syndrome are comfortably treated this way. Over time, chiropractic restore the normal position and motion to the affected joints. Additionally, joints in the neck, upper, and lower back and pelvis will be assessed and any problems will be corrected as well in these regions with hands-on chiropractic adjustments.
Trigger Point Therapy: Muscles that tighten up around the jaw can develop tender points that radiate pain away from the area when pressed on manually. These are known as "myofascial trigger points". They can be treated and released with short term manual pressure directed to these specific areas. As being part of their care plan, patients are taught how to locate and treat these points on their own so they can gain independence from their health condition.
TMJ Motion Re-education: Upon determining your faulty motion pattern in your jaw, Dr. Johnson will treat your motion pattern and help teach you to open your jaw properly again which takes pressure off the TM Joints and reduces your pain.
Home Rehab Program: Our patients are given home exercises to do at a specific interval in order to strengthen the muscles around the jaw and to help ensure proper joint motion on days you are not in Our Clinic.
Acupuncture: Filament needles are inserted in specific points in order to alleviate pain and improve function in those areas. Acupuncture treatment can either be used alone; as part of the chiropractic care; or it may not be necessary at all. You and Dr. Johnson will be able to decide if you are a good candidate for acupuncture treatment.
If you have questions about Our safe, natural treatment of TMJ syndrome, please feel free to call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Johnson.
TMJ Syndrome Treatment Columbia, MO
Dr. Kody R. Johnson, DC, MTAA