Did you know a minor injury more than a decade old can cause temporomandibular disorder (TMD) today?
What is the Atlas? Why Do I Care?
The atlas is the topmost bone in your spine. It sits right under the base of your skull. This amazing joint is a gymnast, allowing your head to twist and turn in a multitude of ways. Unfortunately, the atlas was designed for grace, not stability. It can easily become misaligned, causing trouble for both the brain and the body.
Who is at Risk for Misalignment?
Anyone can suffer from atlas misalignment, sometimes called an atlas subluxation complex. Everyone’s body is different, but it doesn’t take much of an impact to move this critical joint. Severe whiplash certainly causes head and neck injuries, but everyday mishaps can supply enough force to move the atlas out of place. Consider whether you have ever:
· Played sports, tripped, or fell
· Hit your head hard enough to get stitches or see stars
· Suffered a minor auto collision
What are the Effects of an Injury?
When you receive a blow that is just hard enough to misalign the atlas, two things happen immediately:
1. Your skull shifts on top of your neck and doesn’t sit completely level. Your jaw, which attaches to your skull, is off-balance and can’t move as well as it should.
2. Your senses of balance and vision are suddenly abnormal. Because your head is tilted, the rest of your body compensates in order to keep your eyes level with the horizon.
For some people, the difference is evident and you start noticing pain and other symptoms soon after the injury. For many others, the difference is not often noticeable. A little dizziness and muscle tightness is normal after a minor injury, right? Some people may not even notice any symptoms until even a decade after an accident occurs! By then, you don’t remember wiping out during a ski trip or hitting your head on a cabinet door. Unfortunately, your brain and body haven’t forgotten.
How Does Misalignment Cause TMJ Disorder?
Atlas misalignment causes problems with three structures of the jaw: bones, muscles, and nerves. An imbalanced jaw places stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) itself. Muscles in the TMJ area, neck, and shoulders become tight and fatigued. They fight to keep the jaw balanced while receiving signals from the brain that worsen the imbalance. Nerves around the TMJ send and receive inaccurate messages about jaw position, pain locations, and pain levels. After several years, these malfunctions can lead to TMD.
How is my Brain Involved?
Your brain is a marvel. It controls your body and your mind, including the proper function of every organ system, stress levels, pain levels, and overall mental health. To excel at its job, your brain relies on a tightly woven web of nerves that covers your entire body. The base of the skull is a critical place for your brain: along with the spinal cord, a massive nerve that runs through your spine, your brain employs a series of large nerves that pass through holes in your skull. If a problem exists in your upper spine—especially near the skull—your brain is not receiving or sending all the signals it needs to work in your body’s best interests. In effect, the information highway between your brain and your body has a road block. This then causes the imbalances in the bones, muscles, and nerves related to your TMJ.
Why Does My TMJ Disorder Keep Getting Worse?
Your brain sets off a chain reaction from atlas misalignment. It continues to escalate the problem until you fix it. TMD patients report strange symptoms and are often misdiagnosed as a result. You may struggle to find the root cause of your suffering. You might try quick fixes to relieve TMJ pain in the short term. In the end, your brain will sound the alarm until you fix TMD for good.
How Does Aligning my Neck Fix my TMJ?
When a TMJ disorder specialist coaxes the atlas into place, the result is greater than a simple realignment. The information highway between brain and body can begin to work as intended. After realignment, your body will begin to balance back out immediately because the brain and body connection is functioning better. You many notice that your:
· Muscles begin to relax
· Nerve signals normalize
· Pain decreases
It may seem magical, but this approach to TMD treatment is firmly grounded in science. Keep in mind that your brain and body were in crisis mode for a long time, so a full recovery can take time. An upper cervical doctor can give you more information on your healing process and explain what to expect during treatment.
Looking for a TMJ disorder specialist?
The providers at Vital Head and Spinal Care are two of only 256 experts worldwide certified in NUCCA, a highly specialized, evidence-based technique that uses atlas correction to restore the proper physical relationship between the brain and the body. Our scientific treatment method stimulates the body’s ability to heal using gentle methods. Popping, crunching, and forceful twisting are not part of the NUCCA method. To learn more, please contact Vital Head and Spinal Care today.