TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a disorder that results in pain and problems in the jaw. Although it may be more commonly known as TMJ, this acronym is misleading because it stands for Temporomandibular Joint, not the disorder itself. TMD may affect only one side of the head or both sides and if left untreated, the pain can last for many years. TMD is a common disorder and tends to affect more women than it does men.
The TMJ is like a hinge that connects the jaw bone to the skull allowing it to move up and down and side to side. In between the temporal bones and the jaw is a soft cartilage disk that prevents the two from rubbing and grating against one another and the cartilage also acts as a shock absorber to cushion your bones from your jaws regular movements. This disc can become damaged or pushed out of alignment and cause tremendous pain.
Causes of TMD
TMD has many possible causes. It could occur after experiencing an auto accident, whiplash, a sudden, violent blow, arthritis, or even stress which can cause grinding or clenching of the teeth and lead to TMD. However, there are several risk factors for developing TMD:
- Poor posture in neck and upper back
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Misaligned teeth
- Frequent gum chewing
- Women aged 18-44
- Increased sensitivity to pain
Symptoms of TMD
Symptoms of TMD can range from discomfort to severe pain and may include:
- Pain or tenderness in the side of the face and jaw, along neck and shoulders. Pain can occur around the ears with movement of the jaw.
- Swelling of the jaw or side of face
- Lump in temple area
- Locked or stuck jaw
- Clicking or popping noise when chewing
- Teeth feel misaligned
- Numbness or tingling in the face
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Problems hearing
- Tiredness in your face
Many of these symptoms can be caused by other problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, sinus problems, and arthritis so it’s important to be evaluated if you’re feeling any of these symptoms in order to find the underlying cause so treatment can begin.
When you see a doctor for an evaluation, X-rays, an MRI, or Computer Tomography (CT) may be done. An MRI is helpful in determining whether or not there is a misalignment of the disc. Depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the TMD, treatments may include medication such as painkillers, muscle relaxers, or anti-anxiety medications. Sleeping with a specially-fitted mouthguard may prevent grinding of the teeth at night may alleviate pain. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
How Chiropractors Treat TMD
Chiropractic care is about non-invasive treatments that do not require surgery or harsh medications. Chiropractic adjustments can provide relief for TMD by alleviating pressure on associated nerves. Through spinal adjustments, soft tissue massage, and targeted exercises, patients can find relief from the pain that comes with the disorder. Realigning the bones in the neck can improve problems in the jaw that are associated with TMD.
If the root cause is found, TMD can be completely reversible and the pain can be relieved. At North County Pain Relief, our experienced staff offers non-invasive, non-surgical, drug-free relief from TMD as well as chiropractic services that treat pain associated with back problems, headaches, auto accidents, slip and fall injuries, fibromyalgia, and more. Call today at (314) 731-4201 to schedule your free consultation and get relief from pain.