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Chiropractic Care - TMJ Disorders + Pain

Your TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint, is the fancy name for your jaw. This joint connects the lower jawbone, or mandible, to your skull, at your temporal bone.

TMD stands for temporomandibular disorders, and has many, many different causes. People can have clicking in their jaw, popping, pain, aches, and other painful stimulation.

There are many different causes of TMJ disorders, including arthritis, stress, griding or clenching teeth, or issues with the disc in the socket of the joint.

Now, you may be asking yourself, how can a chiropractor help my jaw? I am so glad you asked! Let's chat about what we, as Woodland Chiropractic, can do to help TMJ Disorders (TMD).


#1: Chiropractic Adjustments: Duh! Adjustments are great for restoring motion. We have a couple different adjustments that we can use to help TMD

  • Cervical Spine Adjustments - Your cervical spine connects your spine to your skull, and your skull connects to your jaw. Something down the line, such as a cervical vertebrae not moving like it should, can refer pain to your TMJ. We can adjust the upper cervical spine to see if restoring motion there, can help your skull + jaw move better.

  • TMJ Adjustments - Now, we don't go twisting and popping the TMJ like we do your spine, but we do have some tools, like our Arthrostim and Activator that can help get little impulses into the joint, hopefully restoring a little bit of motion to it.


#2: Dry Needling: This is a fun one! You have 3 main muscles we target when we dry needle the jaw:

  • Lateral Pterygoid - Have you heard of this muscle? It is a short, thick muscle, that connects part of your inner skull to your jaw, and helps it move side to side. It is deep, and you can't really feel it from the outside of your face. It is a muscle of mastication, meaning it helps you chew. This muscle can get super tight on people who grind their teeth or clench, and a needle can help relieve that tension!

  • Masseter - Your masseter is a thick, bulky muscle that helps close your jaw when you chew. If you clench your teeth hard, you can feel this muscle contract on the side of your face in between your teeth.

  • Temporalis - Did you know that a muscle on the side of your skull helps you chew? Your temporalis covers the side part of your skull, and connects to your jaw. If you place your hand above your ear on your head, and clench your teeth, you can feel this muscle contract.

Dry needling has been a very effective therapy for TMD that is caused by muscle tension. I personally found relief with my TMJ from getting dry needled!


#3: Manual + Muscle Therapy: Dry needling is a wonderful muscle therapy for these muscles, but we have other therapies we offer as well! We often do all of them together:

  • Muscle Scraping: We can do a gentle, but firm muscle scrape on the sides of your jaw, targeting your masseter muscles to help promote blood flow and relieve tightness. This should help improve inflammation and reduce tension.

  • Cupping: Similar to muscle scraping, cupping helps promote local blood flow to the area and can help reduce tension.

  • Manual Releases: There is a fun manual release we can do on the pterygoid muscles that has been known to relieve tension. We place a gloved hand into your mouth, find your pterygoid, and do some sustained pressure. The goal with this is to apply pressure to temporarily reduce blood flow, then releasing, bringing new, fresh blood to the area. We can also teach you how to do this at home!


#4: Patient Education: While we offer effective and awesome in office therapies, a lot of your healing can come from things you do yourself! This includes:

  • Patient Education: Why is your TMD hurting? Do you grind your teeth? Do we need a referral for a nightguard? Do we need to work on your stress levels? We can work with you to try to get to the root cause of your pain.

  • At Home Therapies: We love demonstrating at-home manual therapies that can help relieve tension, such as masseter massages, pterygoid releases, and jaw movements.

  • Life Advice: There are some life advice that we could encourage, such as reducing chewy foods, looking into a nightguard, and more, that can help reduce this tension.

While we can't help all TMJ Disorders, we have had great success helping ones more musculoskeletal based. If you're experiencing pain in your TMJ, contact us, and we can see if we can help!

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