TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain can be incredibly debilitating. Every time you open your mouth to talk, your jaw aches. Every time you try to chew something harder than yogurt, your jaw hurts. You might even experience some aches and sharp pains when you are just resting! Most people turn to their dentist when they're experiencing TMJ pain, but this is a complex condition, and sometimes the remedies your dentist can prescribe don't quite do the trick. When that happens, the next medical professional you want to see is a chiropractor. Here is how they can help manage your TMJ pain.
Adjusting your jaw and neck
Your chiropractor may begin by adjusting your jaw, which basically means they will manipulate the joint where your mandible meets your temporal bone. You may feel a little discomfort when this is occurring, but it should be followed by a sense of relief. The chiropractor will also likely adjust the cervical vertebrae in your neck. In many cases, misalignments in the neck can contribute to TMJ pain since they affect the way you hold your head, which can put excess strain on your jaw and lead to pain. If your neck is really out of line, your chiropractor may give you some exercises or stretches to do on your own to help keep your neck in better alignment.
Adjusting your back for better relaxation
Stress plays a role in many cases of TMJ pain. When you are more stressed, your muscles get tense, which pulls your back out of alignment. This, in turn, makes it hard to sleep, which increases your stress levels, making TMJ worse. So while adjusting your back may seem like a strange way to address jaw pain, it can be very effective in promoting relaxation overall, which may help your jaw pain diminish over time.
Applying heat and cold therapy
More and more, chiropractors are beginning to take a physical therapy approach to managing conditions like TMJ pain. One component of this may be applying heat or cold therapy to your jaw. The heat can help loosen any tense muscles in the area, which can help the adjustment "stick." Cold can then help reduce inflammation, which should also reduce pain.
While seeing the chiropractor for a jaw problem might seem strange at first, they really are adept at managing this issue. After your first chiropractic appointment, you should feel much better, and subsequent appointments should ease tension even more.