What is TMJ Syndrome?
Even if you’ve never experienced issues with TMJ, you’ve likely heard of it. TMJ stands
for temporomandibular joint, and is commonly abbreviated as such to encompass a
variety of musculoskeletal disorders involving the joint itself. According to the National
Institute of Dental and Craniofascial Research, “Temporomandibular joint and muscle
disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and
the muscles that control jaw movement.”
Anatomy of TMJ Syndrome
The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw bone (mandible) to the skull at the
temporal bone. The muscles that attach around the jaw control its position and
movements. There is also a small, soft disc inside the connection site of the jaw bone and
temporal skull bone. The temporomandibular joint acts as a sliding hinge mechanism.
This combination of movements as well as the muscles that attach here and control
position and movement of the jaw, are what make it one of the most unique (and
complicated) joints in the body.
What are TMJ Syndrome Symptoms?
TMJ syndrome has long since held a reputation as a “blanket diagnosis” due to its vague definition
and complexity of the joint and surrounding anatomy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following symptoms are typically enough to diagnose someone with TMJ syndrome:
o Pain or tenderness of the jaw
o Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
o Aching pain in or around the ear
o Difficulty chewing or pain with chewing
o Aching facial pain
o Locking of the joint, either when open or closed
o Clicking or grating sensation with pain during jaw movement
Chiropractic & TMJ Syndrome
While in school, chiropractors spend an extensive amount of time learning about
the connections in and innervations from the cervical spine. TMJ can be heavily
influenced by subluxations in the upper cervical spine, and often occurs in combination
with neck pain and headaches. Chiropractic adjustments in combination with soft-tissue
techniques can provide a great deal of relief for chronic TMJ syndrome sufferers. Trigger point
therapy, myofascial release, and active release techniques are some of the most widely
used soft-tissue techniques to treat TMJ and related disorders.