Chiropractic and TMJ Disorder
When a person chooses to see a chiropractor for a TMJ disorder, they will first be asked for a medical history, typically including a family background. This information can help the chiropractor determine if there are any lifestyle issues or repetitive motions that may be affecting the TMJ. The chiropractor will also do a posture evaluation, hands-on palpitation, and may choose to order X-rays to see if the bones are properly aligned.
After an initial evaluation, the chiropractor will come up with a specific plan to treat the TMJ disorder. He or she may recommend massage therapy to target the muscles in the back that affect the jaw, demonstrate exercises to relax and stretch the jaw muscles, talk about meditation for stress relief (which will also lead to muscle relaxation), or discuss using a mouth guard while sleeping to prevent grinding or clenching of teeth. Other possible treatments include heat and cold therapy, biofeedback, counseling, and even ultrasound.
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Chiropractic for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the term for the paired joints between the upper and lower jaws, as well as the term generally used to describe pain or other dysfunction of these same joints. Initial treatment for a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can include applying heat or cold to the jaw area, eating mostly soft foods, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, or wearing a bite guard in the mouth at night. If these methods are unsuccessful, many patients resort to dental treatments to modify the bite or even surgery of the jaw. For those with TMJ symptoms, chiropractic is available as an alternative to those more invasive treatments.
How can Chiropractic Help Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Chiropractic care for the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can ease pain by correcting the misalignment between the spine and nervous system. Chiropractic can be effective at reducing the pain associated with TMJ, either when used alone or as a complement to other treatments. This is because, rather than change the diet or modify the teeth, it relaxes the muscles, adjusts the joint and uses specific trigger points to accurately re-position the jaw. When done successfully, this will not only relieve pain in the short run (as would medications or eating soft foods), but it will help prevent TMJ pain from returning.
Chiropractic treatment of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) focuses on relieving tension in the muscles around the joints themselves—working both outside and inside the mouth, using massage and trigger point therapy. A trigger point is a very sensitive area made of muscle fibers. Trigger points feel like knots and may cause pain or even a twitching response when pressure is applied to them. A chiropractor can manipulate trigger points in such a way to alleviate the pain associated with them.
Trigger points common to TMJ include:
- · Trapezius muscle, located at the base of the neck. Manipulating this trigger point can influence the areas behind the ear, at the temple and at the jaw bone.
- · Sternocleidomastoid muscle, located along the neck from the collarbone to the ear. This trigger point can be used to relieve pain in the forehead, front of the jaw and around the eye socket.
- · Masseter muscle, located at the back of the jaw. This refers to pain in the upper jaw, ear and above the eye.
- · Medial Pterygoid muscle, located behind the molars on the jaw. This trigger point influences pain in the TMJ, as well as in the ear, nose, lower jaw, and the neck.
Adjustments to the joints can also be done by hand, using a technique that causes a tiny stretch inside the joint to release any fibrous attachments made by the body due to previous trauma. Our doctors may also give the patient home exercises to help strengthen the joint and loosen the tight muscles.
Call Orinda Family Chiropractic today 925-258-0850 to schedule an appointment and find relief from your TMJ disorder.
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