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3 Conservative Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders - by Dr. Pat

tmjThe temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a joint that connects the mandible bone on the side of the face to the temporal bone, which is part of the skull. To get a sense of how these joints work and their range of motion, simply place your fingertips in front of your ears and open and close your mouth. The TMJs, along with the muscles that attach to them, allow us to open and close our mouth to perform everyday activities such as talking, chewing, or yawning. For some people, these joints can be a source of pain and aggravation. Symptoms include jaw/facial pain, clicking or popping at the joint, and occasionally the joint can actually get stuck in one position, which can be extremely painful.

With TMJ disorders, it is important to identify what is causing the painful joint to be dysfunctional. That’s why at the Springfield Wellness Center, treatment for TMJ disorders includes methods such as chiropractic, myofascial release, and deep tissue laser:

1- One of the primary goals of chiropractic is to restore motion to joints that aren’t moving properly, and the TMJ is no exception. The TMJ even has a tiny disc made of the same fibrocartilage as the discs of the spine! If a TMJ is not moving properly, then sometimes it is clinically indicated to adjust the joint. This can be done either manually or with the Activator, depending on the patient’s comfort level. It is also important to look to the cervical spine, as many cases of TMJ disorder can cause muscle tightness in the neck as well as headaches.

2- Myofascial release is arguably the most important aspect of conservative treatment for TMJ, as with many cases the muscles that attach to the TMJ are very tight and restricted in their movement. Using techniques such as Active Release Technique or Graston Technique, we are able to break up some of the adhesive restrictions in the muscles, allowing them to move and function properly.

3- Deep Tissue Laser is another modality we use in conjunction with the methods listed above. It is great for combating the associated inflammation that can occur with joint dysfunction and pain. It stimulates cell metabolism, which allows for greater energy production that can be put towards combating the inflammatory process that builds up over time.

Allopathic treatment protocols typically call for pain killers and muscle relaxers, reaching as far as Botox treatment or surgery for TMJ disorders. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we take a natural approach that seeks to correct the mechanical dysfunction occurring at this very small, but very important, joint of the human body. Call us today and see how we can help!

-Dr. Pat