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What Is TMJ Syndrome and How Can Chiropractic Help?

Woman in pain from TMJ

What Is TMJ Syndrome and How Can Chiropractic Help?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the temporal bone with the condylar process (flange of bone) of the mandible (jaw bone). There is a TMJ on each side of your skull. The joint provides for all motion of the jaw in relation to the skull, including elevation, depression, protraction, and retraction. The temporal bone is a highly complex structure. Cranial nerve VII (facial nerve) is located within the temporal bone's facial canal. The tympanic part of the temporal bone surrounds the external auditory meatus, forming the canal that transmits auditory signals to the auditory nerve.

The TMJ is a diarthrodial joint, as are many other joints in the human body, and comprises ligaments, a cartilaginous disc, a joint capsule, and a synovial membrane. As a diarthrodial joint, the TMJ is subject to inflammatory disorders, including degenerative arthritis, and movement of the TMJ may become quite painful. TMJ syndrome describes head, ear, and jaw pain; joint crepitus of the TMJ; joint dysfunction; and tenderness of the muscles of mastication. Joint crepitus is a sensation of grinding, grating, crunching, or popping upon movement of a joint. TMJ joint dysfunction is characterized by deviation of the jaw to one side on opening of the mouth and/or inability to insert 3 fingers vertically when the mouth is open. The jaw deviates to the side of a weak muscle, such as the pterygoids. The muscles of mastication are the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoids, all extending from the zygomatic and temporal bones to the mandible TMJ.

Regarding TMJ pain, sensory innervation to the TMJ is provided by the mandibular branch (mandibular nerve; V3) of cranial nerve V (the trigeminal nerve). Muscle spasm related to the TMJ may involve the motor branches of V3, which supply the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid muscles. Muscle spasm may contribute to substantial pain as a component of TMJ syndrome.

TMJ syndrome may involve radiating pain, especially to the jaw line and ear, irritating the auditory canal. There may be aching facial pain, pain around and in the ear, and locking of the TMJ, interfering with normal opening and closing of the mouth.

Chiropractic care is an especially important component of a comprehensive, holistic program of treatment for TMJ syndrome. Chiropractic care detects, analyzes, and corrects spinal nerve irritation and spinal joint dysfunction. In the case of TMJ syndrome, the vertebral joints of the neck and their associated spinal nerves may be specifically implicated. Additionally, using gentle manual procedures directed toward the TMJ itself, chiropractic care is able to relax and reduce muscle spasm in the jaw muscles surrounding the TMJ and help to restore normal TMJ mobility. Additional treatment for TMJ syndrome may include use of a mouth retainer at night (nocturnal occlusal guard) to act as a "sling" and help prevent grinding of the teeth while asleep. As well, psychological counseling may be of benefit.

Overall, chiropractic care provides specific treatment for TMJ syndrome. Your chiropractor may also recommend a restorative nutrition program and exercise routines to assist your overall recovery and return to optimal health and well-being.

Chantaracherd P, et al: Temporomandibular joint disorders' impact on pain, function, and disability. J Dent Res 94(3 Suppl):79S-86S, 2015

Fernández-de-las-Penas C, Svensson P: Myofascial Temporomandibular Disorder. Curr Rheumatol Rev 12(1):40-54, 2016

Sanders C, et al: Temporomandibular Disorder Diagnostic Groups Affect Outcomes Independently of Treatment in Patients at Risk for Developing Chronicity: A 2-Year Follow-Up Study. J Oral Facial Pain Headache 30(3):187-202, 2016

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Millar Chiropractic Clinics -
Appointment Center (All Clinics)

Huntsville, Madison, and Jones Valley Alabama

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Local Phone: (256) 830-0000
Toll Free: 1-800 Go Chiro (1-800-462-4476)

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Millar Chiropractic Associates, Inc.
PO Box 21157
Huntsville, Alabama 35813

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Phone: (256) 519-3550

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Millar Chiropractic-Madison AL

Dr. Justin Walbom, DC
1908 Slaughter Rd
Madison AL 35758
(256) 430-2700

Millar Chiropractic-Huntsville AL (Jones Valley)

Dr. Tanner Glass, DC
2124 Cecil Ashburn Dr SE, Ste 150
Huntsville, AL 35802
(256) 713-1830

Millar Chiropractic-Huntsville AL (Downtown)

Dr. Eric Hayes, DC
2021 Clinton Ave W, Ste A
Huntsville, AL 35805
(256) 539-2000

Millar Chiropractic Functional Medicine (Williams Ave)

Dr. Greg Millar, DC CCEP
303 Williams Ave SW, Ste 133
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
(256) 513-4888

Neuropathy Laser Center Huntsville

Dr. Greg Millar, DC CCEP | Dr Bonnie Sims, ND
303 Williams Ave SW, Ste 135
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
(256) 830-4545
1-800 Why Hurt

Alabama Laser Spine Decompression

Dr. Greg Millar, DC CCEP & Dr. Bonnie Sims, ND
303 Williams Ave SW, Ste 134
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
(256) 539-1000

American Spine & Rehab

2021 Clinton Ave W, Suite E
Huntsville, Alabama 35805
(256) 519-6800

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Each clinic independently owned and operated. Each clinic practices as a separate group practice from the other Millar Chiropractic Clinics and their respective companies. Millar Chiropractic Associates, Inc. is the management and marketing company for Millar Chiropractic and Millar Chiropractic Clinics. See Notices & Disclaimers and Terms of Use

Free* Consultation - A Free consultation is just that. A 15-20 minute meeting to talk about your problems and our possible solutions. No Exams preformed. No Chiropractic treatment given. Should the person receiving the Free* services as outline above be accepted as a patient of Millar Chiropractic Clinics then additional regular charges for treatment will be incurred in individual cases as needed for related services. It is up to YOU to determine if you can receive Free* services. This offer only to new consultations and does not apply to existing patients,, personal injury, or workers comp consultations. For all services, results vary in individual cases. Cash value of Free* consultation $0.01. Cash value of Free Massage $0.01.