In the United States alone, around 10 million people are affected by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. People who are dealing with a TMJ disorder (otherwise known as TMJD) experience pain in the jaw area and difficulty using their jaw, preventing them from living a normal, healthy life.
To make matters worse, those who suffer from this condition are often unable to find an apparent reason or cause for their symptoms. In turn, they have a more difficult time dealing with their situation.
But this article should help clear up misconceptions about TMJ disorders. And if you’re looking for upper cervical care in Calgary, you can count on Align Health and Wellness to provide you with various relief options that will suit your needs.
Understanding the Temporomandibular Joint
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower part of the jaw (the mandible) and the temporal bone of the skull. These two joints are located on each side of the head, right in front of the ears.
The TMJ is a complex joint. It can move the jaw in various directions, from hinging open and close and gliding from side to side. These movements enable us to chew, talk, yawn, and move our mouths freely.
Like the spine, there is also a disc within the TMJ. This disc acts as a shock-absorber that sustains the force generated from the chewing motion, as well as other movements.
TMJ disorders vary from one person to another, but the symptoms are generally similar. Most people experience clicking and popping sounds, along with some jaw stiffness and locking. It is also common for TMJ sufferers to have their upper and lower teeth misaligned.
Apart from jaw problems, TMJ disorder symptoms manifest in several other ways. Headaches, earaches, and facial pain are frequent. In some cases, people also endure some neck pain and stiffness.
Self-Care Tips to Relieve TMJ Pain
Doctors may a diet of soft foods and eliminating excess chewing, like chewing gum. They may suggest anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers. Dentists may also recommend the use of mouthguards for sleeping to help the patient avoid involuntary teeth grinding.
But one silver lining in dealing with a TMJ disorder is that it is possible to relieve some cases without the help of a professional. Home remedies can also help manage the condition until a patient is able to make an appointment with a professional.
Ice the Jaw
Whether it’s with the ankle, knee, or another joint, icing an inflamed joint is a common practice among athletes. The same thing can be applied to the jaw of someone dealing with TMJ.
By treating the affected area with an ice pack, you can feel a significant amount of relief. Repeat the process as needed daily, but do not apply ice directly to the skin. Wrap the icepack in a soft cloth and apply to the area for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Eat Soft Food
People with serious jaw injuries sometimes have to consume their food through a straw. While it may not be as satisfying as eating a meal in its original form, ingesting softer food makes it easier to deal with the pain.
Even if you have a less-serious issue with your jaw, instead of eating tough meat, bread, or chewing gum, stick with soups and other foods that do not require a lot of chewing. It’s a small sacrifice to make to give you some much-needed relief.
Stress is a primary obstacle of someone dealing with TMJ pain. Too much stress can cause a person to clench their jaw, which only worsens the condition.
Keep yourself stress-free by doing gentle exercises such as taking a walk. Deep breathing techniques for stress relief and simply doing your favorite hobby can help you manage the stress in your life.
Be Aware of the Jaw’s Range of Motion
As someone suffering from TMJ pain, your jaw’s range of motion is already limited to begin with. To prevent the condition from worsening and feeling more pain, be aware of the jaw’s limitations.
When yawning, for instance, be careful about opening your jaw too wide. Any activity that requires the jaw to open very wide or stay in an open position for a length of time (such as during a dental procedure), can aggravate the TMJ.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care as an Option for TMJ Pain Management
The TMJ’s are located near the atlas (otherwise known as the C1 vertebra). The atlas is the uppermost vertebra in the spine that cradles the skull and allows the head to move freely. It also serves as a protector of the brainstem.
Any injury or misalignment of the atlas may affect the neck and facial muscles, which includes the jaw. In turn, it can cause some tightening, which can lead to too much tension or uneven tension on the jaw.
Upper cervical care is a relief option that keeps the atlas properly aligned, thereby decreasing muscle tension in the neck and jaw area. At Align Health and Wellness, we use diagnostic imaging that gives accurate information on the exact location and degree of any misalignment. Given this knowledge, we are able to provide our patients with personalized care to suit their specific needs.
Our upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are precise and gentle. But at the same time, they are designed to hold the atlas in place for an extended time. And the longer it stays correctly aligned, the more thoroughly the body can heal.
If the pain from your TMJ disorder persists despite other forms of care, maybe it’s time to give upper cervical chiropractic a try. And if you’re looking for upper cervical care in Calgary, our doors at Align Health and Wellness are open for you.
Feel free to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation to have a better idea of what we can offer you.