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What Is TMJ Disorder

TMJ Disorder, also known as TMD, is a general term that covers a wide array of symptoms involving the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and the  surrounding muscles involved in chewing and opening & closing the jaw. The TMJ are the joints – one on each side of the face, that connect the jaw (mandible) to the head, and this joint structure is one of the most complex in the body.

There is a cartilage disc in the middle of the joint, which when it gets out of place, causes pain, restricted movement of the jaw, and potentially, a variety of other symptoms.  As well, TMD is viewed as having involvement with many other systems in the body, including the cardiovascular, digestive, muscular, fascial, respiratory, and more.  For such a small joint, it has a complex relationship with the rest of the body.

TMD is a relatively common disorder, with estimates of up to one-third of all adults experiencing it during their lifetime.  More women than men experience it statistically, with women typically experiencing more severe symptoms than men.  Children can develop TMD as well, with estimates of about 11% of kids developing TMD at some point during childhood.

What Causes TMJ Disorder

Causes of TMJ Disorder are usually not just one thing, but rather a combination of imbalances, such as

  • Injuries
  • Accidents
  • Arthritis
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching of the jaw or teeth)
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic stress (big underlying contributor)
  • Circulation issues
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Sleep problems
  • Bite pattern, teeth misalignment (malocclusion)
  • Strain patterns in other areas of the body
  • Postural distortion
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Dental procedures

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

  • Jaw pain
  • Restricted movement of the jaw
  • Clicking, popping when moving the jaw
  • Aching in surrounding areas
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain
  • Pain when chewing
  • Toothache
  • Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes

TMJ Disorder Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a physical exam, ask you about your symptoms, their severity and duration, and ask about your health history.  Bloodwork will likely be ordered, and your doctor may order scans (X-rays, CT scan, or MRI) to determine if any structural abnormalities are present.

TMJ Disorder Treatment

Treatment options will depend on your symptoms and severity.

  • Tylenol or NSAIDs
  • Antidepressant drugs
  • Rest
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Mouth guard or other dental appliance(s)
  • Surgery, if none of the above relieves the symptoms

CranioSacral Therapy For TMJ Disorder

CranioSacral Therapy can typically provide a good amount of relief of TMD symptoms.  CranioSacral Therapy is gentle, yet effective in uncovering and relieving soft tissue strain patterns in the body that contribute to TMD.

All of our experiences are stored in the body.  If we grind our teeth at night, sit at a computer all day, have high levels of stress in our life, have had previous injuries or accidents, all of these experiences are stored in the body, and can create strain patterns that lead to TMJ Disorder.  CranioSacral Therapy can help to relieve these strain patterns that are causing your pain and other symptoms.

Benefits Of CranioSacral Therapy For TMJ Disorder

  • Decreased pain
  • Increased movement of the jaw
  • Increased relaxation
  • Better sleep
  • Better energy levels and stamina
  • More enjoyable and fulfilling daily life

As with all therapies and protocols, each person responds differently with the use of CranioSacral Therapy.  Health status, chronic disease, medications, previous illnesses, and previous injuries are all factors in outcomes.  Please call for a complimentary consultation to discuss your particulars and goals.