TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders have been targeted by the chiropractic field for a number of years now. For example, a study involving 9 patients yielded beneficial results using an activator adjustment tool as a part of chiropractic care. This tool is used by general chiropractors to provide a gentler adjustment to sensitive parts of the spine. As we will discuss, the specific form of upper cervical chiropractic known as NUCCA uses a low force adjustment without the cracking or popping that most associate with chiropractic care.
Why TMJ Pain Can Be Related to the Neck
The general location of the C1 vertebra is a little below the ear, often right under the jawline. As a result, a misalignment of the C1 (atlas) can also affect the jaw and facial nerves leading to pain, swelling, and a grinding sound when chewing or speaking. This explains the reason that TMJ pain often radiates up to the ear and down into the neck. Everything in this area is very close together and interrelated.
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What Is Upper Cervical Chiropractic?
Upper cervical chiropractic care is a gentle adjustment that involves precision rather than blunt force. X-rays are taken to reveal the exact degree and angle of an upper cervical misalignment. Then the patient and chiropractor can be positioned just the right way so that a gentle press is enough to get the neck back into proper alignment. Because this gentle realignment occurs “under the radar” as it were, the body allows the gentle adjustment to take and hold for a longer period of time.
Once the neck is back in its proper place, the jaw and face nerves and muscles can relax. This often helps to alleviate the pain of a TMJ disorder. Rather than going after the pain with NSAIDs, which only temporarily provide relief, upper cervical care may correct the underlying problem and put an end to jaw pain.
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