Today I’d like to talk to you a little bit about TMJ pain, TMJ temporomandibular joint, which is the jaw joint where the mandible connects into the skull. The typical medical treatment for TMJ pain is medications, right, cover it up, mask the problem that do not do anything to actually fix anything, physical therapy, where they rub the joints and they would have you do certain exercises, which might make it feel better, but it doesn’t address the source, it’s just kind of putting a Band-Aid on it. And then I’ve seen some actually, even as extreme as surgery, where they’ve replaced the joints, they put new little disc pads in there. All of these things are basically temporary, they’re not addressing the actual cause.
What we have found in our 26 years of working with people with TMJ pain is almost all the time what has happened is, the joint actually has gotten out of balance. Now, how does it happen? Well, the ligaments that hold the joint up into the little socket there, so it’s almost like a ball and socket joint on both sides that go up into the socket and as long as the ligaments that hold the joint in place are nice and healthy, then the ball sits inside, and it just rocks inside that joint. But what we have found is the ligaments can actually become unhealthy. And then when that happens, the ball actually slides out or slides forward or moves out of the joint to a degree that now it doesn’t work the way it’s intended to, when that happens, it can cause severe pain. If you have TMJ, you know what I’m talking about, and it can even cause it to lock up either on the opening or the closing side so that it gets kind of stuck.
Now, a good way to check for this is to look to go in front of a mirror and look at the mirror and slowly as you open your mouth, slowly see how the jaw moves. The jaw should be symmetrical all the way through the opening and closing part. If you start opening and it shift over to one side, comes back another way, a lot of times what will happen is it’ll go one side then back the other side and you’ll see it doesn’t open smoothly. It should open up and down very smoothly. If it doesn’t and starts to kind of lean towards one side or the other, or sometimes a lot of times you can go back and forth then there’s some joint dysfunction in there. Most of the time, what we’ve found is that’s because the nerve flow to that part of the body has become interfered with or hampered to a degree that the ligaments have gotten unhealthy and the nerves that come out of the very top of the neck are the nerves, obviously they’re right there behind it, they control the temporomandibular joint.
What we do as upper cervical chiropractors is find if there is a joint insufficiency at the TMJ. And instead of actually manipulating the joint, what we do is we go in and find the source, or the cause, that causes that joint to become out of sync. And it’s usually from the upper part of the neck where the nerves come out, they go to the joint, that if one of these bones in the neck is out of aligning, it can actually interfere with the messages to the joint, allowing it to become less than healthy and start to dysfunction.
We have found that we can open it up. Now the healthy nerve flow gets back to the joint, the ligaments actually draw back up so that, that ball on both sides fits into the joint as it’s designed. Now, you get a smooth transition as your jaw opens and closes. Now, the joint can actually heal, work as intended, and quits locking up. Believe me, I know, I had a TMJ problem all through high school, through college, and then finally started going to an upper cervical chiropractor. When he started adjusting my neck, my jaw problem all of a sudden just disappeared. It used to click and pop and sometimes it would get hung or I could only open it so far, it used to drive me crazy. But there was always some degree of discomfort, sometimes severe discomfort, even sharp stabbing pain.