Jaw Joint Pain (TMJ Syndrome)

Although often viewed as the domain of the maxillofacial specialist, many temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders may be sufficiently screened and managed by the chiropractor.

TMJ Pain Referral Sites

The TMJ is one of the joints of the body that is taken for granted and rarely thought about as a cause of pain. Common complaints that may be due to dysfunction of the TMJ (lack of proper motion of the jaw joint) are:

  • Ear pain (otalgia) - it can be a 'slushy' feeling to sharp stabbing pains. Medically, your GP may check the ear and find no swelling or ear infection. Ear pain is a very common complaint when associated with the TMJ, studies are undecided where this pain originates from and theories range from inflammation around the Eustachian tube (tube from your middle ear to throat) to nerve irritation.
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) - although tinnitus can be from other reasons, tinnitus from the TMJ is also rather a common complaint due to a nervous irritation from the TMJ.
  • Neck pain - due to grinding of the teeth and improper posture, neck pain can arise from the tight musculature referring pain to the neck and vice versa.
  • Headaches - this is usually the main complaint a patient presents with and the TMJ may not even considered at the beginning. If the TMJ is considered straight away, headaches usually dissipate faster.
How Chiropractic can help?

Chiropractors are doctors of the nerves, muscles and joints of the body. As your TMJ is a joint - your chiropractor may be able to help! Treatment of the TMJ commonly revolves around the loosening of muscles around the joints themselves - working both outside and sometimes inside the mouth, using massage and trigger point therapy. Adjustments to the joints can also be done by a technique by hand that causes a tiny stretch inside the joint to release any 'fibrous' attachments that have been made by the body due to previous trauma. The typical "clicking or popping" sound with chiropractic adjustments to joints won't occur here and it's not painful! Home exercises may also be given to help strengthen the joint and loosen the muscles that are too tight. By carrying out all the above, motion of the jaw joint can improve and symptoms such as ear pain, jaw locking, headaches and neck pain can be reduced.