If you have pain or tenderness in your jaw or if your jaw is making popping or clicking sounds, you may have TMJ pain. It’s estimated that 12% of people in the United States experience TMJ pain at some point so it’s far from rare and you don’t have to just live with the pain that it causes.
If you’re ready to get relief from your TMJ pain we’ve got some good news for you! Not only do chiropractic TMJ adjustments help ease the pain when you visit a chiropractor but you can also do some soft tissue work at home to help loosen up your jaw muscles and reduce pain. TMJ adjustments are quick and provide relief to pesky TMJ pain.
In this video, you’ll see Dr. Pero demonstrate some exercises you can do at home to help ease your TMJ pain and you’ll also see how seeing a chiropractor to help with TMJ works and what you can expect. WHAT IS TMJ?
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), more commonly known as TMJ is a blanket term for acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (which is what connects your mandible to your skull). TMJ is a commonly used term that refers to a wide variety of conditions that affect TM joints, jaw muscles, and facial nerves.
Your jaw joint, also known as the TM joint, exists to connect the lower jaw bone (that’s your mandible) to the temporal bones of the skull on each side of the head. The muscles controlling the joints are attached to the mandible and allow the jaw to move.
The TM joint works in 2 different ways. It’s first function is to exist as a hinge to open and close your mouth. The second function is a sliding motion called translation, where your lower jaw moves down and forward. This motion helps the TM joint to move backward and forward and from side to side to help making tasks like chewing, singing, and yawning possible.
When you open your mouth, the rounded upper ends of the mandible on each side of the jaw glide along the joint socket at the base of the skull. When you close your mouth they slide back to their original position. When those rounded upper ends of the mandible slide back into place as you close your mouth, you may hear a pop or a click. This popping or clicking sound is a hallmark of TMJ.
TMJ is very common, especially among younger people. The causes of TMJ include direct injury/trauma to the jaw, teeth grinding, nail-biting, degenerative joint diseases like arthritis, infections, and autoimmune diseases. Approximately 12% of the US population is experiencing TMJ at any time and many of them don’t realize that a chiropractor can help with the pain that comes along with TMJ. Many people believe that they have to just deal with TMJ pain and that’s simply not true! Many of our patients with TMJ come in for a chiropractic TMJ adjustment and experience immediate relief that improves over time.
jaw pain or soreness
jaw pain when biting or chewing
difficulty opening and closing the mouth
popping or clicking noises when opening the mouth
sensitive teeth when no other dental problems can be found
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be experiencing TMJ and we can help! Follow the instructions in the video above to perform the soft tissue techniques on yourself and click here to schedule an appointment for your TMJ chiropractic adjustment.
When you visit us with jaw pain we’ll focus on 3 key muscles: the masseter, the temporalis, and the pterygoid. We’ll also pay close attention to the suboccipital muscles, the jaw joint itself and the top 2 vertebrae because they greatly impact the jaw joint and we want to make sure everything is aligned properly.
Your masseter is a thick, deep muscle in the upper jaw area that exists to allow us to chew our food. If you put your hand on your cheek and open and close your mouth you can feel your masseter. Your temporalis is a thinner, clam-shaped muscle on each side of the head. This muscle is crucial for chewing and covers a broader area than the masseter including the area around your temples.
In the video above, Dr. Pero walks through some soft tissue techniques that you can do at home for the masseter and the temporalis. In order to work on the masseter, place two fingers flat against your jaw as shown in the video. Press inward with flat fingers and then up to put pressure on your masseter and then open and close your mouth. From there, you can move up to the next part of the masseter and continue to do a total of 3 repetitions to complete 1 set of this exercise. If you’re currently experiencing jaw pain, we recommend doing 3 sets of this exercise 3 times per day.
This same exercise can be applied to the temporalis as well. When working on the temporalis you’ll want to use all 4 finger pads. Use the same movement and pressure as you did in the masseter exercise but remember, the temporalis will require less pressure than the masseter because it is a thinner muscle. We recommend doing 3 sets of this exercise on your temporalis 3 times per day for TMJ jaw pain relief.
Doing soft tissue work on the pterygoid is more complicated to do yourself so you’ll want to consult a chiropractor for this. As you can see in the video, the pterygoid release requires leverage against the cheek between your cheek and your teeth. This is typically the most uncomfortable soft tissue to work on because it’s rarely as strong as your masseter or temporalis.
Once we’ve completed soft tissue work for jaw pain we move on to adjust and assess the jaw in a chiropractic TMJ adjustment. During the TMJ adjustment, your chiropractor will feel for which side of the jaw joint opens the least amount and which one opens last to identify which side should be worked on first. We adjust the stuck side of the jaw first and then the other side with a light push motion. After this adjustment, we reassess and often find that the jaw joint is realigned. If the jaw is very tight, TMJ treatment can be combined with dry needling or with class 4 laser treatment to speed up the healing process of the tissue.
We treat many patients who have TMJ and the jaw pain that comes along with it. Do you suffer from TMJ? Click here to schedule your appointment for your chiropractic TMJ adjustment.