Many people suffer from jaw problems. Most of the symptoms will be focussed around the joints where the jaw meets the skull, the TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint). Symptoms may include pain in or around the joint, pain referred to the ear or temple, clicking or clunking of the joint, locking of the joint, tightness of the muscles, and general discomfort when chewing or talking. Tightness of the muscles surrounding the jaw is also common and can contribute to the pain. This condition is referred to as TMD (temporo-mandibular dysfunction).
The motion of the jaw is controlled by the muscles connecting the mandible (jaw bone) to the skull. When these muscles become tight and painful this indicates there is an issue with the control of jaw motion. This issue may be with the TMJ itself or it may be related to other structures near to the jaw.
In a study conducted by Grondin et al, 2014, it was found that a lack of motion at the upper cervical spine was related to temporomandibular issues. Therefore restoring the motion of the spine at the upper neck can have a positive effect on TMD patients.
Another factor to consider is the neurological component of these misalignments. The muscles controlling the jaw are controlled by nerve signals coming from nerves exiting from the area of the central nervous system closest to the upper cervical vertebrae. Therefore irritation to these nerves caused by misalignment of the vertebrae may cause changes in the signals reaching the muscles around the jaw. This may change the tone of the muscles causing the tightness and discomfort associated with TMD.
As upper cervical chiropractors we examine the spine to assess for misalignments of the top vertebrae in the neck. Misalignment of one of these bones has potential to reduce the motion at this region. When we find a misalignment and restore it to its proper position, normal motion is also restored. Correcting the misalignment will also reduce the interference to the nervous system and cause the control of the muscles to be restored. Patients with TMD symptoms often report reduction and changes in their symptoms after having specific upper cervical chiropractic adjustments.
At Top Chiropractic our goal is not to treat TMD or any other TMJ related disorder. We specifically analyse the upper neck and make an adjustment when necessary. When we do so we often see positive changes in our patients' symptoms, given the right time and correct adjustments.