TMJ, or your temporomandibular joint, is the sliding hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your face, and TMJ dysfunction, or TMD (temporomandibular disorder), can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. The exact cause of your pain is often difficult to determine as it can be a combination of factors. However, there are several common causes for TMJ dysfunction, including:
- Dental issues, including bite misalignment
- Joint alignment issues or muscle strain
- Injury to the neck or head
- Degenerative conditions
Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth. More painful TMJ dysfunction can occur if a disk erodes or moves out of proper alignment or if a joint is damaged by arthritis or by a blow or impact.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMD is temporary, however, signs and symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ears
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open and close your mouth
Additionally, if you are experiencing Headaches, Dizziness and Vertigo, Ear Pain and/or Ringing, Head/Neck/Shoulder pain or Cognitive Difficulties, your TMJ might be trying to get your attention.
To read more about TMJ/Jaw Pain, visit the Vital Blog.
How can a Brain-Based Approach help me?
In addition to the causes listed above, TMJ and Jaw Pain can also be caused by the misalignment of your atlas. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.