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Can Chiropractic help with TMJ Pain?

August 22nd, 2021 by
Category: Chiropractic Care Dr. Kodie Smith

By Dr. Kodie Smith, Chiropractor at Total Health Chiropractic Torquay

Image of lower half of woman's face, smiling

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It is a complex joint of ligaments, muscles, and nerves. There are two TMJ’s on each side of your jaw that moves like a sliding hinge, allowing your jaw to open/close as well as down and forward. 5-12% of the population will experience TMJ pain across their lifetime which is referred to as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).  Some common causes of TMD include trauma, stresses, arthritis, teeth grinding/clenching or joint dysfunction.

TMJ Symptoms

The following symptoms may indicate that you have an issue with your TMJ joint or jaw:

    • Tenderness in the face, jaw and/or neck
    • Pain when chewing/biting, speaking or opening the mouth
    • Clicking, popping or cracking jaw sounds
    • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
    • Dizziness
    • Face swelling
    • Headaches
    • Neck pain
    • Ear or tooth aches

How may Chiropractic help with TMJ pain?

Chiropractic care may have great impacts on TMD in several important ways:

TMJ Adjustments

The Chiropractor will check for misalignments of the TMJ and correct these dysfunctions with specific adjustments, reducing pain and improving function.

Exercises/Stretches

We may recommend simple yet effective TMJ related exercises to assist with strengthening and loosening up the jaw. These exercises help to maintain good TMJ movement whilst preventing future flare ups.

Muscle Relaxation

Chiropractors may provide soft tissue release not only to the TMJ musculature but also the surrounding ligaments and tissues in the face, neck, and upper back.

Surrounding Joint Adjustments

Checking for misalignments or dysfunctional areas throughout the surrounding joints and spine is important as every bone and joint is connected. So it is likely that your TMD is being influenced not only by the TMJ itself but by the joint movement surrounding it.

Postural Issues

On top of the above, the Chiropractor will also identify and treat any underlying postural related issues that could have an impact on the TMJ itself or the recovery of TMD.

Tips to help with TMJ pain at home

If you are unable to get into your local Chiropractor, here are 3 simple things you can do at home to help deal with TMD:

Use a cold pack or moist heat

Applying cold packs or moist heat cloth will help to relax the facial muscles surrounding the TMJ area. Cold packs are most useful when applied to the face/temple area within the first 24-48 hours of injury or pain occurring. Moist heat towels or cloths should be utilised outside this first 48 hour window. Applying these for 5-10 minutes, followed by a few simple jaw stretches will assist to encourage movement and relaxation.

Gentle stretches

Stretches can be a helpful tool to improve joint function. You can perform simple jaw ROM exercises including Open, Close, Side Translation, Protrusion and Retraction (as shown on the images below). We recommended holding each motion for 10-15seconds and repeating each set of movements 2-3 times over. By doing these exercises daily you will be one step closer to reducing your TMD pain and improving your TMJ mobility.

Male performing gentle stretches for TMJ pain

Stress reduction meditation

It is no myth that stress can cause or influence jaw pain. Many people who are experiencing some form of stress in their lives will clench or grind their teeth, causing muscular spasms/tightness and even influencing the way you bite, chew and speak. Doing some stress reduction activities including Deep Breathing Exercises, Mindfulness activities or Meditation will help to de-stress your mind and body and manage your TMJ issues in relation to your stress. You can find some helpful Deep Breathing exercises in one of our previous blogs through our website

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