It’s not Just a Headache
Chronic headaches, earaches and /or jaw pain are symptomatic of a variety of disorders. The misalignment of the jaw, known as TMJ, is oftentimes the source of this type of pain.
What is TMJ?
The temporal bone of the cranium and the mandible (jawbone) interconnect, forming hinge-like jaw joint. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the side of the head, enabling us to speak, yawn, and chew our food.
What’s that Noise?
People diagnosed with TMJ Dysfunction experience painful clicking noises when they open and close their mouths. Additional symptoms include painful chewing and chronic headaches that do not diminish with over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Day-to-day stress is enough to make us clench our jaws and grind our teeth— oftentimes, subconsciously. Over time, this clenching of the teeth alters the mechanics of the jaw, which causes misalignments in the joint. Even excessive gum chewing can strain the muscles, joints and ligaments.
An automobile accident in which whiplash occurs can cause trauma and ultimately, TMJ Dysfunction. As well, keeping the mouth open for long periods during dental work can also cause such symptoms. In a rear-end collision, the head is jerked backward, resulting in excessive strain to the underlying jaw muscles. The tiny ligaments that connect the jaw to the skull are also injured. Concurrently, these events cause the mandible to detach from the cranium.
The Domino Effect
Dentists acknowledge that TMJ dysfunction is related to a variety of disorders throughout the body. Headaches, as well as back, neck and shoulder pain are often comorbid with TMJ Dysfunction.
Up & Down and All Around
Chew our food is a more intricate procedure than one might imagine. In addition to the up and down activity, complex joint movement facilitates the grinding of food. Since both sides of the jaw move simultaneously, one temporomandibular joint slides forward while the other side slides backward.
Catch and Release
Try this: Place your fingers on your jaw, just ahead of the ear canal, while you are chewing. If you suffer from TMJ, you should be able to feel a ‘catching’ in your jaw.
Snap, Crackle; and Pop!
Popping, grinding and clicking noises emitting from the jaw joint are indicative of an abnormality. Occasionally, these sounds are audible to people nearby, while other times only the ‘chewer’ is aware of the occurrence.
Range of Motion
An examination will determine the extent of TMJ activity and range of motion. When a TMJ imbalance is present, Active Release Techniques can assist in realigning the jaw muscles, and alleviate pain.
Chiropractic adjustments can eliminate joint dysfunction and Active Release Techniques can help relieve muscle tension. By using both treatment approaches, patients typically experience an enhanced range of motion and relief from muscle pain.
In certain cases, a trip to the dentist may be necessary to correct the bite (occlusion), or perhaps he or she will prescribe an appliance that prevents teeth grinding.
We’re Here for You!
If you’re suffering from TMJ Dysfunction, call and make an appointment. A skilled professional will evaluate and determine whether TMJ is the source or if your pain is the result of another disorder. Regardless, we can help get you out of pain and put a smile back on your face!