The TMJ Linchpin

TMJ jaw painAre we overlooking an obvious cause and relatively simple solution to TMJ Disorder?  Recent research suggests we are.  According to 3 recent studies looking at this problem, there are three significant conclusions that were drawn:

  • There is a definitive association between head/neck posture and TMJ Disorder.
  • This association is not only anatomical (structural) but neurological as well.
  • Realigning the Upper Cervical Spine (C1, C2) can often correct the underlying cause of symptoms associated with this condition.

When comparing a group of people with TMJ before and after a cervical adjustment, researchers found the adjustment to provide a significant improvement in the range of mouth opening while decreasing clicking/catching and pain.

TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) is a term used to describe a condition of pain and/or clicking in the jaw.  It can be associated with many other symptoms such as migraines, ringing in ears, and reduced ability to open mouth.  According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from this condition, most often women.  The cause of this problem is generally thought to be a combination of biomechanical misalignments in the jaw & surrounding muscles that are exacerbated with continual use.  The disorder is usually first diagnosed by a dentist, orthodontist, or primary physician.  The conventional treatment options include splints, orthodontics, medication, biofeedback, and surgery.  Unfortunately, these interventions are often ineffective, expensive, and come with side-effects.

TMJ Disorder is most likely an organic condition that requires an organic solution.  It’s important to note that while an Upper Cervical misalignment is often a cause of TMJ Disorder, there can be several other potential causes.  This is why it’s important to get examined by an Upper Cervical Chiropractor to see if there is a correlation.  An Upper Cervical Chiropractor can assess if there is a misalignment that is negatively affecting the nervous system, creating an imbalance in the surrounding joints & muscle groups.  If this misalignment is present, then a very deliberate protocol of Upper Cervical Care can usually resolve this issue in a short amount of time.

~Noah Kaplan, D.C.

Ref:

La Touche R., et al.  “The influence of cranio-cervical posture on maximal mouth opening and pressure pain threshold in patients with myofascial temporomandibular pain disorders.”  Clin J Pain. 2011 Jan;27(1):48-55.

Mansilla-Ferragut P., et al.  “Immediate effects of atlanto-occipital joint manipulation on active mouth opening and pressure pain sensitivity in women with mechanical neck pain.” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Feb;32(2):101-6.

La Touche R., et al.  “The effects of manual therapy and exercise directed at the cervical spine on pain and pressure pain sensitivity in patients with myofascial temporomandibular disorders.”  J Oral Rehabil. 2009 Sep;36(9):644-52. Epub 2009 Jul 14.