TMJ: it’s just a little problem … isn’t it?
Little problems grow up into BIG problems.
The problem is that so many people ignore the little signs or symptoms when it would be much easier to treat the little problem before it becomes a big problem.
A problem with the TMJ (temporomandibular joint, or jaw) is no exception to this rule.
Minor annoyances such as clicking, difficulty chewing, pain or discomfort opening the jaw, a blocked feeling in your ear, tinnitus or ringing in your ears, and grinding your teeth (brutism) may all be signs of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) that can start small but can grow much worse.
- Headaches on the side of your head
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Suboccipital Neuralgia
These types of conditions often involve dysfunction of the TMJ. The difference is that these types of BIG problems are the ones that little TMJ grow into!
Then, it’s not until you’re dealing with one of these bigger and nastier types of problems that you realise that you need to do something about it!
What do I do if I have a TMJ problem?
Many BIG TMJ problems require a combined treatment approach.
(Actually, I would argue that many complex types of pain, nerve, and other health problems are multifactorial in nature and require a combination of therapies to fully resolve).
Stress is also a major catalyst for people who suffer from TMJ problems. However, it is important to recognise that almost everyone on planet Earth has some degree of stress … but not everyone suffers from a TMJ condition,
What this simple fact suggests is that stress will certainly AGGRAVATE or AMPLIFY a physical TMJ problem. However, by itself, stress is NOT the true underlying CAUSE of the TMJ problem in the first place.
When it comes to the cause of TMJ dysfunction, there are a few key elements that need consideration:
- Dentist. The alignment of your teeth influences your jaw position, and if your TMJ position is affected, it can cause tight muscles, difficulties chewing and troubles opening your mouth.
- Craniopath. The structure of your skull (due to injuries growing up, or even as an adult) also affects the position of your TMJ and can cause a number of TMJ and health problems. A certified craniopath typically is a qualified chiropractor, osteopath or craniosacral therapist.
- Physiotherapist, Acupuncturist, or Massage Therapist. When the TMJ muscles contract or fatigue, the entire surrounding area tightens, which can produce pain and other problems including grinding or clenching in addition to jaw pain.
- Upper Cervical Chiropractor. This is a chiropractor who focuses on the alignment of the top 3 vertebrae in your neck - C1, C2, and C3 - because of their influence on the nerves that control the muscles that control the orientation of your TMJ. In other words, they are looking to address the underlying cause of the tight muscles in your neck.
It is this fourth one - upper cervical chiropractic care - that I want to share with you in this article.
How can Upper Cervical Care help my TMJ?
Upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that focuses on the health and alignment of the top vertebrae in your neck: the C1 (atlas), C2 (axis), and C3 vertebrae.
These vertebrae physical tether onto your brainstem, which is the master control system of your body.
If any of these threes vertebrae are misaligned, it is believed that they may exert physical tension and/or disrupt the normal blood circulation around the brainstem, which can ultimately cause pain or other health problems in the body.
Of note, your brainstem contains a cluster of nerve cells (called the spinal trigeminal nucleus) that processes the sensory information from your jaw, head, scalp, and neck. Therefore, if a misalignment in your upper neck is affecting your nerve system, it can at least contribute towards a TMJ problem.
(That may be one reason why a simple stretch to relax your jaw muscles doesn’t really work … because whatever the underlying cause in your jaw is coming from somewhere else!)
The purpose then of upper cervical care is to identify and correct any misalignments in the upper neck for the ultimate purpose of allowing the body to function as it is designed with particular emphasis on the nerve system.
And when this happens, we expect the body to function the way it is designed - naturally.
So rather than simply treating the symptoms of TMJ (whether it's a small problem or a big problem), upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on resolving the underlying cause if that cause is a misalignment of the vertebrae in your upper neck.
How is Upper Cervical Care different from General Chiropractic?
The major difference between upper cervical care and general chiropractic or physiotherapist is the level of precision and the nature of the testing that upper cervical chiropractic doctors use in practice,
First, rather than employing spinal manipulation, a Blair upper cervical chiropractor does not twist, pop, or crack the neck. In fact, a Blair upper cervical correction is performed without any head rotation, and use only the amount of force that you would use to feel your pulse.
The difference is that a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor will have first performed a tier of physical, neurological, and also specialised imaging tests in order to determine the exact level, direction, and degree of misalignment in your neck, and how these misalignments could be affecting your TMJ.
In fact, everything that a Blair per cervical chiropractor does to help people with TMJ is individualised so that any care recommendations are literally designed just for you.
In our own practice, we also employ a method for adjusting the TMJ directly using a mechanical instrument when required. We also work in conjunction with a number of specific dentists and other healthcare professionals for the ultimate purpose for you to be as healthy and well and you can be.
Where can I find an Upper Cervical Chiropractor to help my TMJ?
We hope that you have found this article to be both informative and valuable.
If you have been experiencing either a new or chronic TMJ issue - whether it's, unfortunately, a big problem, but ideally if it's still only a small problem - we hope we may be able to assist you.
Our practice, Atlas Health, is the premier Blair upper cervical health centre in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), our practice helps people from across Brisbane, Queensland, and around Australia, who experience a variety of health conditions, induing TMJ problems.
Our principal, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified Blair practitioner with over 10 years of experience. He is a published author, speaker, international lecturer, and recognised leader in the field of Blair upper cervical chiropractic.
If you would like to schedule a complimentary 15-minute over the phone consultation with Dr. Hannah to discuss your particular case and to ask any questions so that you can decide if Blair upper cervical care may be right for you, we would like to hear from you.
You can contact our practice through the Contact Us, or you can call us direct at our office: 07 3188 9329.
We look forward to hearing from you and will endeavor to do our best to assist you.
Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside out.”
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