By Dr. Drew Voelsch
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You might wonder if chiropractic treatments can help with your temporomandibular disorder (TMJ). Fortunately, they can. While chiropractic treatment for TMJ can help reduce the pain when you visit a chiropractor, you can also do soft tissue exercises at home to loosen your jaw muscles.
This article will define TMJ, demonstrate exercises you can do at home to reduce TMJ pain, explain how chiropractic treatments work, and what to expect.
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular disorder, or TMJ, is a blanket term for chronic or acute inflammation of the joint connecting your mandible to your skull. It refers to conditions affecting TM joints, jaw muscles, and facial nerves.
TMJ is a common disorder; nail-biting, teeth-grinding, jaw injuries, infections, degenerative joint diseases, and autoimmune illnesses can cause this condition. Roughly 12% of the American population experiences TMJ at any time, and several don’t know that chiropractic treatments can reduce pain.
People with TMJ may experience pain in or around the ear, headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, soreness, jaw pain when biting or chewing, jaw stiffness, tinnitus, dizziness, and popping noises when opening the mouth. They may also experience sensitive teeth even if they don’t have other dental problems.
Chiropractic Treatment for TMJ
When you visit us for TMJ chiropractic treatment, we’ll focus on the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid. We’ll also focus on your suboccipital muscles, the jaw joint, and the top two vertebrae because they significantly impact the jaw joint. We want to ensure everything is correctly aligned.
The masseter is a thick, deep muscle in the upper jaw that plays a critical role in chewing. As you open and close your mouth, your masseter flexes when you place a hand on your cheek.
The temporalis is a thinner, clam-shaped muscle on either side of the head. It’s crucial for chewing and covers a broader area than the masseter, including your temples.
To work on the masseter, place two fingers flat against your jaw. Press with flat fingers and up to put pressure on your masseter and open and close your mouth. From there, you can move up to the masseter’s next part and continue doing three repetitions to complete a set of this exercise. We recommend doing three sets of this exercise thrice daily if you have jaw pain.
You can also apply the same exercise to your temporalis. You’ll want to use all four finger pads when working on this area because it’s a broader muscle. Use the same movement yet less pressure on the temporalis because it’s a thinner muscle. We recommend doing three sets of this exercise on your temporalis thrice daily for jaw pain.
Working on the pterygoid is more complicated, and you’ll want to consult a chiropractor for this treatment. The pterygoid release needs leverage against the cheek between your cheek and teeth. It’s usually the most uncomfortable soft tissue to work on because it’s usually not as strong as the masseter or temporalis.
After working on the soft tissue for jaw pain, we can now adjust and assess the jaw in a TMJ chiropractic adjustment. We’ll feel which side of the jaw joint opens the least and which opens last to identify what side to work on first. We’ll adjust the stuck side first and then the other with a light push motion. After adjustment, we’ll reassess and usually find that we finally realigned the jaw joint.
If necessary, we can combine TMJ chiropractic treatment with dry needling or class 4 laser treatment to speed up the tissue’s healing process.
Easing the Pain
TMJ is an uncomfortable condition that prevents you from living your best life. Fortunately, chiropractic treatments and the correct jaw exercises can help ease the pain.
Led by leading local chiropractor Dr. Drew Voelsch, Hawkeye Chiropractic offers full-service chiropractic treatments in Arlington Heights. Contact us now to get the help you need today.
“Dr Drew is upfront about what’s going on with your body. He helps work with you to achieve the goals that you as a patient want to set. I highly recommend him to those interested in chiropractic services.P.S Go Cyclones!”