Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

TMJD - Symptoms and Treatment:

Clicking, popping and improper tracking in the movement of the jaw are common but only considered a TMJ disorder when they are accompanied by pain. Aching pain in your face or ear and locking of the jaw can be common symptoms.   

+The position of the cranium plays a huge role in how your TMJ functions. 
+Postural distortions elsewhere in the body can perpetuate TMJ pain. 
+Improper tracking may erode the TMJ disc, fortunately this disc can regenerate. 
+The National Institutes of Health recommends non-surgical treatment for TMJ whenever possible.  

The proper function of the jaw depends greatly on the temporomandibular joints on either side of the head. The jaw is unique, compared to other joints in the body, as it is suspended from the rest of the cranium by ligaments and muscles. Because the jaw is suspended this places great stress on the muscles and ligaments that help support the jaw. Deviations or imbalances in the head/cranium can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder. Because of how Neurosomatic Therapy looks at the body and these imbalances we believe that TMJ dysfunction usually has its origin somewhere else in the body. Even in cases where TMJ pain is triggered by trauma or grinding of the teeth, postural distortions elsewhere in the body can exacerbate TMJ issues. Treatment of the temporomandibular joint should begin by addressing postural distortions in the body as a possible perpetuating factor, and the body must be treated as a unit instead of treating TMJ as a spate issue. 

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that treatment for TMJ disorder should be reversible whenever possible. Treatments of this nature would include medications for pain, stretching exercises and movement therapies and stabilizing or repositioning splints. Here at the clinic we have found that patients who are given these therapies often have limited success. These exercises and stretches focus on the functioning of the jaw without addressing any tissues that may have been traumatized in an accident and still influence the movement of the jaw (ie. whiplash, head trauma, disc erosion). As stated above, underlying postural distortions must be eliminated if these therapies are to be successful in the long term. 

The Neurosomatic Therapy treatment approach to correcting TMJ syndrome incorporates treatment directly to the painful areas of the jaw and head as well as to the imbalances of the pelvis, spine cranium that contribute to this dysfunction. Increasingly, TMJ specialists are recommending non-surgical approaches to treating TMJD. Historically, patients who received surgery have not had good outcomes, loss of range of motion, increased pain, and increased tracking issues would often be the outcome. The surgical procedure done alters the TMJ and does not address other factors that caused the dysfunction in the first place, like muscles and ligaments. 

As postural distortions promote improper movement of the TMJ, multiple things happen. First, the muscles that move the jaw develop a spasm/strain imbalance – some muscles are overly contracted while some are overstretched causing pain. This can lead to uneven pressures in the joints causing asymmetrical wear patterns in their structure. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage can become weakened and deteriorate. Pain levels increase as these structures break down. In severe cases of temporomandibular joint disorder the rounded portion of the jawbone that articulates with the rest of the cranium can wear away, changing the shape of the bone so that it no longer can move properly. Restoring alignment and function of the TMJ, even in more advanced cases, alleviates these pain patterns and further breakdown of the joint. 

Call today to let one of our expert therapists answer any questions you may have regarding TMJ.