Temporomandibular joint disorder – commonly referred to as TMJ – is an often painful affliction of the jaw joint. TMJ is often experienced as pain upon yawning or chewing; soreness in and around the temples, teeth, ear, cheek, and jaw muscles: “clicking” or “popping” sounds made by your jaw that are loud enough for you (and, often times, others) to hear; difficulty with opening your mouth wide; and, occasionally, your jaw getting stuck/locked upon opening.
For the majority of individuals, pain and discomfort in the jaw muscles and joints tends to be temporary and often abates upon rest. However, for people who suffer from TMJ disorder, the symptoms can become chronic and, seemingly, unending. TMJ disorder tends to get missed in some due to the fact that they’re not experiencing the “classic” symptoms. Instead, TMJ may present as pain that radiates down through the neck and shoulders, headaches, earaches, hearing problems, dizziness, and difficulty swallowing.
Fortunately, your chiropractor can help determine if the pain you’re experiencing is related to TMJ disorder or another cause, and provide treatment as well.
Surprisingly, TMJ disorder can be due to both physical and emotional stress. Obviously, emotional stress in and of itself doesn’t cause TMJ, but it can be the way in which the body manifests the symptoms. For instance, when some individuals are stressed or angry, they clench their teeth or jaw. And, it’s been noted that women experience TMJ disorder at four times that of men.
If, after an examination, your chiropractor arrives at a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, know that there are several methods of treating the ailment. For instance, your doctor may recommend chiropractic manipulation, massage, heat and/or ice therapy, as well as special exercises. Additionally, your chiropractor will educate you on things not to do (such as biting into hard candy) and can even show you how to perform exercises (stretching and strengthing of the jaw muscles) that are specific to TMJ disorder. Once treatment has begun, your chiropractor may also refer you to a dentist that specializes in the treatment of TMJ disorder to see if a mouth-guard or bite guard would be beneficial for your particular circumstance.
There’s no doubt about the fact that temporomandibular joint disorder can be extremely painful and, to some, almost debilitating. However, there is hope! If you feel as though you may be experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder – or if you’ve been diagnosed with it in the past and are still suffering – please don’t hesitate to give us a call! The doctors here at Fletcher Chiropractic in Lincoln, Nebraska are well versed in the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder and look forward to helping you live pain free!