Have you suffered from jaw pain, stiffness or clicking in the past? See what could be causing the pain and how chiropractic care can help!
According to one study, 85% to 90% of individuals will develop some jaw related symptoms in their lifetime. Another name for the jaw is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and it is similar to other joints in your body, like your elbow, wrist and ankle. The TMJ is my favorite joint of the body because it is often overlooked by many docs as the source of pain. Problems with your TMJ can cause a variety of symptoms that travel to other parts of the body. Jaw pain or dysfunction in movement can lead to headaches, jaw clicking, ear pain, face pain, ringing in the ears, sinus congestion and even neck stiffness.
So what can cause these symptoms? Blunt force to the jaw, car accident, sleeping wrong, clenching your jaw when stressed, chewing food that is very chewy, biting down on something hard, holding the jaw open for extended periods of time (like at the dentist's office), or it can be due to poor posture of the neck and back.
In the TMJ, there is a disc between the temporal bone and mandibular bone. That's right, a disc! Kind of like the ones found in your spine. The disc is a necessary component for smooth jaw movement and when it is displaced it can cause a limitation in movement of the jaw or popping/clicking in the joint. There are about ten small muscles that are involved with movement of the jaw. You can strain these muscles in a car accident or a trauma directed to the jaw, and you can also develop trigger points within the muscles which cause pain to travel to other areas of the head, face or neck. This is called "referred pain" and it can even mimic a toothache in some instances.
Goals for treating the TMJ include: reduce pain and swelling, promote soft tissue healing, eliminate muscles spasms, strengthen weak muscles, restore normal motion and stability, and prevent re-occurrences of jaw pain, stiffness or clicking. To accomplish these goals we utilize massage and stretches to loosen tight muscles, prescribe exercises to strengthen weak muscles and help stabilize the jaw, and we may even mobilize the joint to help re-align it. Mobilizing the jaw means the doc gently moves the jaw to gap the joint to allow the disc to re-align. In some instances splints may also be used to help re-position the jaw, but these are used temporarily. It is important to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight muscles of the jaw to prevent future symptoms and get lasting results.
If you have any jaw associated pain, stiffness, or popping/clicking, let us help and make an appointment today!