Does your jaw click when you open or close it? If so, you might have TMJ, which is a common joint disorder. The good news is that seeing a chiropractor can help ease your symptoms. Plus, you can get exercises to do at home with the soft tissues to loosen the muscles and reduce your jaw clicking.
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) disorder (TMD) is often called TMJ, which is a term for the inflammation of your temporomandibular joint; this is what connects the skull and the mandible. TMJ refers to many conditions that affect the nerves, joints, and jaw muscles.
The jaw joint is there to connect your lower jawbone, or mandible, to your skull’s temporal bones. The muscles that are connected to your lower jaw let your jaw move around, so when you open your mouth, the ends of the joint move along with the joint’s socket. When you close your mouth, they move back to their original position. That is when you might hear clicking in your jaw.
What Causes TMJ?
TMJ might be caused by an injury or trauma to the jaw, grinding your teeth in your sleep, or when you are awake. Nail bitters may also get this condition, and autoimmune diseases, infections, or arthritis might also be to blame. Around 12 percent of people in the United States have TMJ, but what they don’t realize is that a chiropractor can help them deal with this condition.
Treatment from a Chiropractor
When you see a chiropractor for your jaw clicking, they will focus on the muscles in the area. They will look at the jaw joint, suboccipital muscles, and the upper two vertebrae of your spine. These all impact the joint significantly, and everything needs to be properly aligned.
The masseter is a deep muscle in the upper jaw, which helps with chewing. You can feel it if you put your hand on your cheek and move your jaw around. The temporalis is a smaller muscle on either side of your head. A chiropractor will help you learn about the different soft tissue movements you can do yourself to help these two muscles, and may even recommend doing an exercise a few times each day for each of the muscles.
No matter what kinds of soft tissue exercises you may be prescribed, your chiropractor will then move on to assess and adjust your jaw with a TMJ adjustment. This is done by seeing which side of your jaw opens the least amount and which side is the closest to functioning normally. That way, they can see which side needs the most attention first.
If one side of the jaw is stuck, the chiropractor will address this first. A light pushing motion will be used. Then, the chiropractor will reassess the jawbone, and they might find that the joint is aligned properly again. If it is necessary, the chiropractor might use dry needling for very tight joints. In some cases, a laser might be used for the patient, as well.
Seeing a chiropractor can help with jaw clicking that is associated with TMJ. Depending on what is going on with your jaw, one or several treatments might be done, and scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor is your first step towards normal jaw function. If this is something that you’re dealing with, please know that we can help! Give Fletcher Chiropractic, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, a call to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors!