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Temporomandibular joint disorder, variously referred to as "TMJ" or "TMD," is caused by misalignment, strain and/or deterioration of the small joint that attaches the jawbone to the skull. This complex joint is cushioned by cartilage and surrounded by connective tissues that enable it to open and close the jaw as well as sliding the jaw forward and backward. As you might imagine, this joint is vulnerable to injuries, ailments and alignment problems. When it malfunctions, you may experience:
An incorrect bite (malocclusion), bruxism (clenching or grinding the teeth) or an impact to the jaw can all cause TMJ. Rheumatoid arthritis and myofascial pain are other possible factors. Years of chronic or recurring jaw misalignment can hasten osteoarthritis in the joint, increasing your pain and other symptoms.
But TMJ problems don't have to originate from within the jaw joint itself. As strange as it may sound, an upper-cervical spinal misalignment can also cause or contribute to a case of TMJ. That's because a pinched nerve root can cause dysfunction in the trigeminal nerve, a major nerve and governs sensory and motor control in the face and jaw. If the trigeminal nerve sends faulty nerve signals to the muscles governing jaw movement, the resulting muscular stresses and strains can nudge the jaw joint out of alignment, leading to TMJ.
Our Boca chiropractor can relieve many of the underlying musculoskeletal and nerve problems associated with TMJ. If your dentist hasn't spotted any obvious maloclussion might account for your symptoms, a spinal evaluation may reveal a cervical nerve impingement that needs correcting. Gentle, precise adjustments in this area can remove pressure from nerve roots, normalizing trigeminal nerve signaling and relieving your pain. Our Boca chiropractor can also adjust the joint itself, if necessary, to restore pain-free mobility.
Since TMJ typically involves soft tissue pain and inflammation, we may prescribe other types of natural, non-invasive treatment as well. For instance, massage therapy can not only relieve muscle pain and tightness but also release pent-up stress that may be causing bruxism. Nutritional counseling can help you increase your consumption of naturally anti-inflammatory foods. We may also prescribe home care treatments such as jaw exercises, relaxation techniques, moist heat and ice applications to get your current bout of TMJ under control without drugs.
Many TMJ sufferers undergo extensive dental restorations only to find that changing their bite doesn't change their symptoms. Others resort to painkillers (which do nothing to fix the actual problem) or major surgery (which should only be pursued as a last resort). If you prefer a non-surgical approach that actually treats your condition, contact the chiropractor Boca relies on for TMJ relief. Call Shadowood Chiropractic Center at 561-488-4000!