Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

TMJ disorder is a painful condition where pain is localized to the jaw area. This includes the jaw muscles and the joint between the jaw (mandible) and the skull. Here is the official medical description, so get ready for some big words.

Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJD (in the medical literature TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic pain, especially in the muscles of mastication and or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull.

Simply put, this is a pain in the jaw! I have seen many cases over the past 24 years of TMJ pain. This occurs quite frequently after motor vehicle collisions, such as rear-end collisions. People who have been injured in a car crash especially a rear end collision often have neck and back pain, but they can also have TMJ pain. Some will have TMJ pain associated with headache pain. Needless to say, this sucks if it happens to you!

Doctors who specialize in the NUCCA procedure handle these cases by evaluating the upper cervical spine, especially the alignment of the top bone in the spine, the atlas vertebra. If a correction is made to the upper neck and head alignment, in many cases the TMJ pain will start to improve and resolve. How this works is still a theory. If you think about the anatomy, both the atlas vertebra and the jaw (mandible) connect to the skull. They are actually quite close together. If the upper neck is out of alignment it is theorized that this can actually affect the alignment of the TMJ.  Also, as stated in my blog article about muscle knots, when the neck and head are misaligned, nerve irritation develops that results in muscle knots and spasm. This muscle involvement can cause the TMJ pain.

There are cases where a multidisciplinary approach may be necessary. Collaboration between dental specialists and the NUCCA chiropractor can yield great results with TMJ pain. The key on treatment for temporomandibular joint pain is finding the approach that will work for that individual. Don’t rule out NUCCA care as it can work in many cases. Also, consider an approach that incorporates NUCCA as well as other modalities to get the result you are looking for.

My initial experience with temporomandibular joint disorder happened early in my practice. I had a patient that had been in a rear end collision motor vehicle crash. He had excruciating neck pain and headaches, and also TMJ pain. I was immediately focused on the misalignment that the car accident had caused with the upper neck and head. It was a difficult misalignment to correct initially, but we managed to get a nice correction with the head and neck alignment. I had actually done no specific treatment to the TMJ joint itself! When I discussed with my patient how well he was doing, he mentioned the neck pain and headache pain had dramatically improved, he also mentioned the TMJ pain had also resolved completely! I was surprised only because I had not been focusing on the jaw pain specifically but had put all my intention on getting a good NUCCA correction on the neck and head alignment. This scenerio has repeated itself year after year in my office with many cases of temprormandibular joint disorder improving with the correction of the neck alignment. I have great confidence in helping this condition. I am only surprised now when a case of TMJ pain does not improve easily!

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