Do you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a chronic condition of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)? TMD is a very common ailment, but it is difficult to treat effectively. Sufferers are often left to their own devices in the search for pain relief. Where will you look for truly effective, low-risk treatment?
I Have TMD. Now what?
Sometimes, people know exactly which specialists to see for health problems. For TMJ syndrome sufferers, the choice is unclear. Once other causes of pain have been ruled out, doctors and dentists may suggest lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory medications, and stress management. Many patients are frustrated by the lack of effective treatment options and feel no one is addressing the underlying causes of their TMJ pain.
Who Can Help Me?
In the quest for healing, TMD patients often try a variety of treatments. If self-help methods fail, they may try muscle relaxants, antidepressants, injections into the joint, and sometimes even surgery. If your doctor or dentist is unable to relieve your pain, perhaps one or more of these providers could help. They focus on identifying and treating root causes of TMJ dysfunction, not simply decreasing pain in the short term.
Three Types of Providers Who Treat the Causes of TMD:
1. Neuromuscular Dentists
Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on finding the optimal position of the jaw. A misaligned jaw or significant bite issue (malocclusion) can cause problems in the muscles, nerves, and tissues, resulting in TMJ pain. Neuromuscular dentists use procedures like tooth contouring, dental restorations, and orthodontics. Correcting dental problems reduces physical tension on the jaw and relieves TMJ symptoms.
Acupuncturists insert very fine needles along pathways called meridians to stimulate the body’s healing processes. Many people with TMD clench their jaws, and acupuncture releases the associated muscle tension. Acupuncture may improve symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), a condition that sometimes occurs with TMJ disorders.
3. NUCCA Chiropractors
National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA)-certified providers use a series of precise scientific measurements to determine the position of the atlas, the very top bone of the spinal column. If misalignment is found, it is gently coaxed back into a healthy position. Centering the atlas also helps to align the jaw, relieving associated pain and inflammation in muscles, nerves, and tissues, including MPS symptoms.
Which Technique is Right for Me?
All of the techniques above may help you find relief from TMJ syndrome, depending on the root cause(s) of your pain. Do any of these situations apply to you?
I have dental issues.
If you have missing teeth at the back of your mouth, crowns that work loose, noticeable bite issues, or fillings [and sometimes even teeth] that break, you may benefit from a visit to a neuromuscular dentist. This jaw alignment specialist may also be of help if you have chronic toothaches or pain when biting down, but diseased teeth are not to blame. You may discover a previously-unknown bite issue (malocclusion). Even small bite problems can cause severe TMJ dysfunction.
I’m a nervous wreck.
TMJ pain can be caused or made worse by stress. We often learn to clench our jaws during periods of emotional tension, and the muscles can learn to stay tense for years. If you have anxiety or PTSD, a high stress level, another chronic health condition, or unexplained lymph node pain in your jaw or neck, you might want to give acupuncture a try. Acupuncture is an effective way to reduce stress and relieve TMD symptoms. If you are wary of needles, an acupuncturist may still be able to help you using special needle-free techniques.
I’m not sure what’s wrong.
Have you ever tripped and fallen? Have you participated in competitive or recreational sports? Do you have chronic muscle tension or unexplained nerve pain? The bones of your upper spine near your skull can become misaligned quite easily, and even a minor imbalance in this critical region can affect many other parts of the body. It only takes a small alignment problem to put tremendous pressure on your body’s sensitive nerves, muscles, and other tissues. NUCCA is scientifically proven to relieve pain associated with TMJ dysfunction.
Tell Me More About NUCCA
At Vital Head and Spinal Care, we carefully correct the position of your head and neck using precision—not force—and rely on scientifically-proven treatment methods to restore the vital connections between the brain and the body. Our adjustments require a light touch and do not involve twisting or popping. To learn more about how this gentle, evidence-based protocol can help relieve your TMJ pain, please contact us today.