Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is what connects your lower jaw to the skull. There are many reasons why a person can experience pain or discomfort in the TMJ, and the pain can be experienced in the joint itself or in the many muscles in the area that control the movements of the face and jaw. Further symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Headaches and neck pain
- Clicking, popping, grinding, or locking of the jaw joint
Typical treatments of TMJ problems often begin with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Therapies, splints, and surgery (in more severe cases) are also utilized. In many cases, a TMJ flare up will resolve with these treatments after a few weeks. However, the problem does end up returning at a later point in time if the underlying cause is not addressed.
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How Are the Jaw and Spine Related?
Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the area of the spine that sits at the junction between the head and neck. Not only is this area in close proximity to the jaw joint, but it is a complex area of nerves that supply feeling and function to the structures of the face and jaw. A misalignment of the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebra can create stress on the jaw and abnormal tension of the facial muscles. This also helps to explain why most people who experience TMJ problems have some degree of neck pain as well.
If you have TMJ issues, having your atlas alignment checked by an upper cervical chiropractor might be the first step in uncovering the root cause of the problem. This is especially true if you have any history of neck injury. A gentle atlas adjustment might be all that is necessary to restore normal alignment so that the nerves and muscles that support the jaw can start functioning properly again.
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