what-causes-tmj-or-tmjdAs experienced Rockford chiropractors, what people commonly refer to as TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD), isn’t new to us. We’ve dealt with numerous patients dealing with this condition, many of whom have found minimal solutions for it.  

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the jaw joint on both sides of the face. It connects the temporal bone of the skull to the mandible, or the lower section of the jaw. A TMJD is an umbrella term for a variety of problems concerning the jaw joint.  

One of the reasons why many people suffer from this disorder is that the TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body. The jaw consists of an articular disc made of cartilage, a fluid-filled joint capsule, the bones of the skull and mandible, and the ligaments and muscles that hold it all in place. All these parts stabilize the jaw and give it the ability to move freely.  

This article aims to educate you further on TMJD’s and a natural form of relief. If you or anyone you know suffers from TMJ disorder, reading this should provide you with information on how to deal with this condition and find natural relief.  

Possible Causes of Jaw Pain 

A properly working jaw holds the ability to hinge open and closed, and glide forward, backward, and side to side. Among all the joints in the body, this is the only one that works with so much freedom.  

TMJ disorders may happen due to several reasons, one of which is the wearing out of the articular disc. Another reason could be arthritic damage to the cartilage of the joint or an injury to the jaw from a direct blow.  

Dental problems are also an issue, along with stress leading to clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth. Misalignments of the jawbone may also cause improper opening and closing of the mouth.  

In many cases, TMJD causes remain unclear. This could be because jaw problems usually come and go. Because of this unpredictable nature, people tend to brush it off and think it is nothing serious. However, if the pain continues and the jaw does not function enough to eat or talk without hinderance, professional care can help solve the issue.  

Symptoms of TMJD 

Pain is a distinct and glaring symptom of TMJD. However, there are other indicators, which include headaches, earaches, tinnitus, and aching facial pain. Some people experience difficulty chewing and locking of the jaw. They may hear clicking or popping in one or both jaw joints. They also endure pain while talking.  

Grinding of the teeth is also part of the many symptoms. But for others, conditions like vertigo or dizziness also arise, leading to more discomfort. 

If you encounter any of these symptoms, you’re likely experiencing TMJD. At this point, it’s best to consult an expert and get to the root of the problem.  

The Connection Between the Jaw and the Neck 

The neck consists of seven cervical vertebrae. All the soft tissues in the area lend support to the spine. 

The atlas (the C1 vertebrae) and the axis (the C2 vertebrae) sit underneath the base of the skull. These two bones make up the upper cervical spine.  

The atlas is responsible for supporting the weight of the head and provides the majority of the head’s freedom of movement. Located in close proximity to the ear, the atlas is very close to the TMJ on both sides of the face. 

The other side of the equation has to do with the body’s central nervous system. The brainstem connects the brain to the spinal cord and rests in the tunnel formed by the atlas and axis.  

Two cranial nerves (the trigeminal and facial nerves) branch out from the brainstem. The trigeminal nerve provides sensation to the face while giving strength and movement to the muscles that control the jaw. The facial nerve, meanwhile, allows the flow of facial muscles, including the ones that open and close the mouth.  

Any misalignment of the atlas may interrupt normal brainstem function and prevent nerves from communicating properly. This may result in jaw pain and TMJD.  

Many symptoms of TMJD relate to upper cervical misalignments. These symptoms include earaches, headaches, tinnitus, and vertigo, to name a few.  

This is also one of the reasons why upper cervical chiropractic care is helpful in providing long-lasting relief from TMJD.  

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care as a Form of Natural Relief 

What separates upper cervical chiropractic care from traditional methods is that it focuses on the atlas and axis vertebrae. Upper cervical chiropractors make use of gentle and precise techniques to bring the atlas and axis back to proper alignment. 

In our clinic, Upper Cervical Care Center-Rockford, for example, we make detailed and thorough assessments to give us specific information about the nature of a particular atlas misalignment. We make sure that the adjustment is uniquely tailored to a patient’s needs and designed to hold the bones in place for as long as possible.  

Our methods don’t require forceful twisting or popping of the neck to achieve the desired result. And because of the effectiveness of our techniques and the results that they bring, our patients have great stories to share about the healing they have experienced. 

If you’re in search of experienced Rockford chiropractors, our clinic is here to serve you. Call us at (815) 398-4500 or contact us to schedule an appointment.