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How Is TMJ Pain Treated by a Chiropractor?

Learn about chiropractic care for TMJ disorders from Dr. Karen Erickson in this Howcast video.


Chiropractic care can be extremely effective for temporomandibular joint problems. TMJ is the joint right here that attaches your jaw to your skull on both sides. It's an unusual joint. It's the only area on your body where two joints that are independently attached have to move exactly in harmony exactly at the same time in order for the jaw to function properly.

There are many things that can cause the TMJ to be misaligned. Dental work that changes the occlusion or the way the teeth touch in the back can throw the TMJ off. Even crowns or tooth extractions can actually tear the ligaments in the jaw and create enormous amount of pain and imbalance in how the jaw moves. Things like clinching your teeth or grinding your teeth at night are extremely common. The other thing that we see causing TMJ issues are braces in children and in adults because of the way it locks the cranium and sometimes can really put a lot of tension into the TMJ.

The mecical treatment for TMJ usually involves using a night guard. If that is not enough they'll use medications that can sometimes be effective. But, many patients come to me saying that they're still in pain, they're wearing a night guard, and they're really looking for a more comprehensive solution. And chiropractic can really provide that.

There is special cranial work that chiropractors do to actually adjust and rebalance not only the mandible but the temporal bone that the mandible attaches to. This work can be extremely effective at reducing the pain and inflammation associated with TMJ. We'll also teach you exercises that can be extremely effective at reducing stress in your neck and shoulders as well as the TMJ. Many of my patients find that, eventually, they don't need the night guard at all. Then we just recommend that we check them and treat them periodically, especially after they've had any kind of dental work.

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