What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are conditions of the jaw that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), as well as the surrounding facial muscles. The TMJ is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull, allowing the jaw to move freely for tasks such as talking and chewing. When problems with this joint or the surrounding muscles arise, TMD may occur. Causes of TMD include osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ itself, teeth grinding, clenched jaw, and tight or stiff facial muscles, which may be caused by stress.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Pain felt in the jaw and surrounding areas is a common symptom of TMJ disorders. This pain may be mild to severe, and can last any period of time. You may also experience difficulty opening your mouth, and it may feel stuck or locked. It is not uncommon to hear a clicking sound in your jaw, especially when talking or chewing.
How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?
The Dental approach typically give bite guards to help save your teeth from the pressure of grinding. They can also adjust your bite it if is off and last resort use surgery to correct a misaligned joint.
The Medical approach to TMD is pharmaceutical. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help relieve pain and inflammation in the joint that may be causing your pain. Stronger medications such as muscle relaxants, or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to manage pain and stress that could be causing your TMJ pain. Surgery, although a last resort, can be used when more conservative approaches fail.
Chiropractic care uses a different approach than medical treatment, the approached used is a hands on one. Treatment includes a chiropractic adjustment of the jaw and neck if the joints are out of alignment. This will relieve pressure on the surrounding nerves that may be contributing to your pain. Soft tissue therapy such as the Active Release Technique (ART) can be used to break up scar tissue and adhesions found in the surrounding muscles and ligaments of the jaw. Laser therapy is another treatment option, and can decrease pain and inflammation while increasing healing and range of motion.
Sometimes TMJ Disorders can be treated at home by applying ice to the affected area, and gently stretching the surrounding muscles of the face and neck.
If you believe you are suffering from a TMJ Disorder, please feel free to contact our office at 415-788-8700 to schedule an appointment and find the right treatment for you.