TMJ is the commonly used abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint.
As explained below, the cause of a dysfunctional TMJ joint can have its origins in many locations beside the obvious local TMJ muscles and joint.
What are some of the symptoms of TMJ?
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain or tenderness of one or both sides of your jaw
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Uncomfortable bite as well as clicking or grating sensations with opening your mouth or chewing.
What are some of the treatments you use for TMJ pain?
My approach in treating a patient who has a TMJ disorder, is to do a thorough consultation and examination to include a review of prior significant injuries, traumas, fractures and scars as well as evaluating for neuro -muscular imbalances from the feet up to and including the cranium, in search of regions that would contribute to neurological “roadblocks”.
Additionally I also will evaluate for systemic inflammatory pathways that may be involved which may necessitate some dietary modification and/or the usage of a few well chosen nutrients and supplements. To check on these inflammatory issues I will usually order (assuming none has been done in recent past) a broad lab to include a basic metabolic and thyroid panel, CBC, lipids, Vit D, glucose and A1C as well as inflammatory markers such as CRP, homocysteine, and sed rate – all of which can be obtained by the patient for a cost of approximately $170.
As part of the examination, our methods of autonomic response testing may be utilized to help determine if an individual has a blood sugar imbalance, and/or food sensitivities, excessive toxic burden of chemicals/toxic metals (such as mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum etc), and/or hidden infections.
In terms of treatment, besides the dietary and nutritional recommendations that may be indicated, I utilize a number of gentle hands on techniques that allow for the resetting of proper neurologic tone and feedback from various involved regions such as the feet, pelvis, cervical spine, TMJ and cranium. By addressing the various dysfunctional patterns present, one is more likely to achieve the desired end result of pain relief than if they only were to address one or two of the more obvious issues going on such as neck and TMJ dysfunction.
I am not a big fan of utilizing lots of physical therapy tools in these cases but do have a Class IV K – Laser which can be helpful as part of an overall treatment program. I am a fan of getting patients off of inflammatory foods and having them participate in some simple home exercises that will help speed up their recovery.