Jaw Pain | TMJ | Ravenswood Chiropractic in Andersonville
Treatment for Jaw Pain and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder In Chicago
Location of TMJ Disorders
The TMJ is the joint, or pair of joints, on the side of the head, one on each side, in front of the ears where the lower jawbone (or mandible) attaches to the bone that makes up the side skull (the temporal bone). Together, these two joints are the “hinges” that allow us to yawn, chew, and even talk. A joint between the two bones consists of soft cartilage covering the attachment points of each bone with a gel-like disc between them acting as a shock absorber. As the TMJ makes two motions in one – a sliding or a gliding motion in addition to a hinging action – it is one of the more complex joints in the body, and especially when you consider how often it is used, also one of the joints most prone to damage.
How are TMJ Disorders Treated?
Choosing Conservative Care Options for TMJD first
Here at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, we provide pain reducing treatment options and then we work with you to resolve the underlying issue.
We believe that conservative, non-invasive, and non-medicative management for patients should be the first line of treatment. We are experts at diagnosing and treating temporomandibular joint disorders, and we can help relieve pain associated with the condition. We can correct the central cause of the temporomandibular joint disorder and help to prevent damage and future occurrences. Our conservative care options offer safe and effective alternatives to prescription drugs and surgery.
Our TMJ Disorder Treatment Plan includes the following goals:
1) Reduce pain and restore activities of daily living.
2) Correct the alignment of the temporomandibular joint, if needed
3) Fix the dysfunction that is causing the disorder to prevent further damage
Chiropractic for TMJ Disorders
Radial Shockwave Therapy
Radial Shockwave Therapy is an advanced, non-invasive treatment option for TMJ pain that involves the application of sound waves to the muscles, ligaments, and temporomandibular joint itself. Radial Shockwave Therapy reaches straight into the affected areas, previously only possible through invasive procedures such as injections or surgery. By using radial shockwave therapy, patients can avoid the discomfort and risks associated with these procedures and achieve long-lasting relief from TMJ symptoms by helping to fix the problem, not just cover up the symptoms.
At Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, Radial Shockwave Therapy is a first-line treatment option for many patients. We love it because it can, in many cases, give instant pain relief and increase range of motion almost immediately.
The pain from TMJ issues is caused by muscle tension pain, joint irritation, or most often both, and Radial Shockwave Therapy works on both.
Radial Shockwave Therapy breaks down scar tissue or adhesions and then promotes the growth of new blood vessels and pro-collagen synthesis. This directly encourages healing and reduces pain. TMJ treatment using radial shockwave therapy effectively reduces pain by regulating pain signals. In addition, it reduces muscle tension so effectively that the pain-free jaw range of motion usually improves immediately after the first visit.
With the pain decreasing and the range of motion increasing, we can start to incorporate Chiropractic, Physical therapy, and Massage techniques to help restore normal joint function. This innovative approach to TMJ treatment offers a promising solution for those suffering from acute or chronic jaw pain; Radial Shockwave Therapy is a good option for those seeking relief from TMJ pain.
Depending on the severity of the condition, Radial Shockwave Therapy treatment lasts approximately 10 minutes and is scheduled once a week for three to six weeks. The low-energy setting used during the treatment ensures that it is not painful, and although individual results vary, some patients experience instant relief.
Radial Shockwave Therapy is effective for both acute and chronic cases of TMJ, and both have given excellent feedback. We highly recommend that those suffering from TMJ seek a doctor offering this treatment option. If you live in the Chicago area and want to see if Radial Shockwave Therapy can help your TMJ pain, schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractic physicians or call or text us at 773.878.7330.
Class IV Laser for Jaw Pain
High-Intensity Laser Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses a Class IV Laser to target the mitochondria in cells. By stimulating these powerhouses, the laser increases the production of ATP, which is essential for cell function. This boost in energy production helps to alleviate pain, inflammation, and muscle tension associated with TMJ pain. While similar to shockwave therapy’s benefits, High-Intensity Laser Therapy takes a different approach to achieving pain relief.
Class IV Laser is the highest intensity laser available in the medical office today, making it also the most effective for treating TMJ pain.
The laser is photons or light that can travel deeply into the jaw where previously only steroid injections, botox, or surgery could reach. Now, we have this advanced therapy that can reach and even aid in repairing the disc in your jaw, all without the risks of medications, injections, or surgery. There are no side effects from the laser treatment and no recovery time; you can return to your day right after treatment.
Class IV Laser therapy is a powerful light therapy that only takes a couple of minutes for treatment up to twice a week. It can be used with other therapies to accelerate healing. Although results vary, many patients report some symptom improvement after the first few treatments and may experience symptom relief in 2-8 weeks, depending on the severity of the TMJD. Chronic TMJ pain may take longer.
Chiropractic is a safe and natural method for treating a temporomandibular joint disorder. At Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center, we can offer several different treatment options.
Using a gentle, non-invasive adjustment technique, your chiropractic physician can help to improve the range of motion of the temporomandibular joint. This will help to alleviate pressure, reduce pain, and prevent further injury.
For some patients, TMJ disorder is a result of a stressful lifestyle and shows itself in the grinding or pressing of the teeth while sleeping. For these patients, we include stress reduction as a component of their treatment plan.
Physical Therapy for TMJD
Carefully prescribed physical therapy when performed at the right time during treatment is an effective way to treat temporomandibular joint disorders but only if you have been appropriately diagnosed by a physician. Do not begin physical therapy exercises until you know what the cause of your TMJ disorder is as these exercises could make it worse if not used correctly.
Common treatments in physical therapy for temporomandibular joint disorders include passive and active therapies.
Massage for TMJD
Massage therapy may also be helpful in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders, primarily when used in conjunction with other therapies such as chiropractic, physical therapy, and acupuncture.
At Ravenswood Chiropractic and Wellness, your clinical massage therapist will assess your condition and consult with the chiropractic physician to recommend a personalized treatment plan for you. Many of our patients with TMJ disorders have responded particularly well to myofascial release massage therapy.
Massage therapy involves the deliberate manipulation of muscle tissue to alleviate adhesions while restoring length-tension relationships. Your massage therapist may focus on your back, shoulders, neck, and head to help reduce tension in these muscles as they might be contributing to your TMJ pain.
Massage therapy can increase flexibility and range of motion, which may alleviate the painful TMJ disorder symptoms during talking and chewing. What’s more, massage therapy has also been shown to be useful in helping the body heal after invasive procedures for TMJ disorder.
Acupuncture for TMJD
TMJ disorder and bruxism can be caused by mental as well as physical stress. Acupuncture has the unique ability to address both of these issues simultaneously, making it an ideal solution for TMJ disorders.
Because acupuncture is a holistic therapy, it does not treat physical and emotional symptoms separately but views them as being closely interrelated. Over time, it is possible that extreme emotions can lead to problems in the physical body and vice versa. TMJ disorder is a prime example of this as symptoms will often flare up during stressful periods.
Acupuncture works by placing fine needles at specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. It does this in some different ways.
Firstly, it triggers the release of chemicals known as endorphins in your brain. These are your body’s natural painkillers, but they also promote relaxation and a sense of general well-being which can help to reduce stress.
Aside from this, acupuncture works to reduce joint inflammation and hypersensitivity while calming the trigeminal nerve. There would also be a focus on relaxing the muscles involved to relieve tension and pain.
If you are prone to TMJ pain, it is a good idea to see an acupuncturist as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of flare-ups. This is especially important after dental work, car accidents or any physical impact that could aggravate the problem.
These preventative treatments would aim to keep the joint in good shape, reduce stress levels, prevent teeth grinding, clenched jaw and neck and shoulder tightness.
If you are having a flare-up, acupuncture can also help. It can calm the pain and swelling while relaxing the muscles and relieving stress.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the condition of TMJ disorder is not uncommon. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as IBS, insomnia, tinnitus, reduced libido, migraines, high blood pressure, and anxiety. These are symptoms which are often induced by increased emotional stress.
Because acupuncture treats the body and mind together, it can help with all of these issues should they occur. By promoting relaxation and improving the health of the joint, it ultimately helps to reduce the instances and severity of your TMJD.
WHAT IS TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDER (TMJD)?
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health, estimates that TMJ disorders affect over 10 million Americans (or 5-15%).
The term TMJ is commonly misused to refer to TMJ disorders, the TMJ itself is a part of the human anatomy; it is a part of the jaw known as the temporomandibular joint. It is a joint between two bones that consists of soft cartilage covering the attachment points of each bone (mandible and skull) with a gel-like disk between them acting as a shock absorber.
As the TMJ makes two motions in one – a sliding or gliding motion in addition to a hinging action – it is one of the more complex joints in the body. When you consider how often it is used, it is also one of the joints most prone to damage.
TMJ disorders (sometimes seen written as Temporomandibular Disorders – TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders – TMJD) involve problems with the TMJ itself, the jaw, or the surrounding facial muscles. Both joints or only one may be affected by a TMJ disorder.
Other terms used to refer to TMJ disorders include the following:
• Myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome
• Temporomandibular dysfunction
• Orofacial pain
• Internal derangement
WHAT CAN CAUSE JAW PAIN?
The jaw is a complex joint, and there are many causes and severities of conditions that can affect jaw pain. In medical terminology they are divided into two groups of causes:
Intra-articular causes which are causes that originate in and of the temporomandibular joint itself.
Extra-articular causes which originate outside the temporomandibular joint but have an indirect effect and cause pain.
Intra-articular Causes of TMJ Pain or Causes of TMJ pain arising from the Temporomandibular Joint itself.
• Synovitis: inflammation of a synovial membrane.
• Capsulitis: inflammation of a joint capsule
• Arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis: painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints
• Disc Derangement: AKA: bulging disc, “slipped disc.”
Extra-articular Causes of TMJ Pain or Causes of TMJ pain from outside the Temporomandibular Joint.
Ligament and or muscle conditions such as muscle spasms, trigger points, sprain and strain
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
|* Direct Trauma (such as a sports injury) in which restrictive adhesions form
* Chronic disc injury
* Spasming temporalis or pterygoid muscle
* Excessive Gum Chewing
* Keeping the mouth opened wide for prolonged periods (such as during dental procedures)
* Microtraumas caused by poor chewing habits or by occlusional *dental problems
* Joint stiffness and inflammation
|* Activities that overwork or over exert the muscles responsible for stabilizing the joint
* Cartilage on the ends of the bones getting damaged by impact or disease.
* Neck pain (sprain or strain to muscles and or ligaments of the neck, trigger points in the neck muscles can all affect your jaw and result in pain)
* Postural involvement such as cervical postural syndrome
* Myofascial or tendon involvement
* Vertebral malalignment
* Dental abnormalities
* Stress manifested as a tightness in the face and jaw muscles
* Bruxism clenching and grinding the teeth
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?
Patients suffering from a TMJ disorder may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
• A clicking sound or a grating sensation when opening and closing your mouth
• Locking of the joint making it hard to open and close your mouth; not being able to open your mouth as wide as usual
• Tenderness or an aching pain around the jaw or other parts of the face, which can then radiate to the neck and ears
• Discomfort or difficulty chewing; an uncomfortable or uneven bite
• Headaches, toothaches, earaches (and hearing problems such as tinnitus or ringing in the ears)
• Neck pain
. Temporal pain
• A feeling of tiredness in the face
• Swelling around the side of the face
TMJ disorders can impact a person’s ability to eat (including chewing and swallowing), to speak, or make facial expressions. And in extreme cases, they can impede on one’s ability to breathe.
How are TMJ Disorders Diagnosed?
TMJ Disorders should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional who specializes in jaw pain. A chiropractic physician is an excellent choice since a chiropractor can accurately diagnose TMJ disorders and provide a course of personalized treatment to help alleviate the painful symptoms associated with it. Chiropractors are uniquely able to treat TMJD because there is such an intricate relationship between neck and jaw function that in many cases both need treatment to get best results. In some cases, an X-ray or MRI may be necessary for providing a definitive determination as to which cause of the TMJ disorder needs to be addressed.
During the physical exam, your chiropractic physician will ask you a series of questions about your condition such as:
• When did the symptoms start?
• How severe is the pain from 1 to 10?
• Where does it hurt the most?
• How has the TMJ disorder limited your day-to-day activities? (e.g., not able to chew)
Your chiropractic physician may ask you to open and close your mouth while listening, feeling, and observing the jaw. Your chiropractic physician may press on or around the temporomandibular joint to pinpoint the areas of discomfort, swelling, and pain.
GET HELP FOR YOUR JAW PAIN AND TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDER TODAY
Temporomandibular joint disorders are common, and they can be an extremely painful condition, limiting what we can do, eat, or say. Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options available.
Conservative treatment options such as chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture offer a natural and safer alternative to harmful medications and unnecessary surgeries. Why not start with natural, non-invasive treatments?
In a survey of people who have used complementary and alternative medicine for TMJ disorders, the people most satisfied with the results were those using “hands-on” therapies of chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. (J Am Dent Assoc. 133(9):1189-1196)
If you believe your symptoms are from temporomandibular joint disorders, please call Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center at 773.878.7330 (Monday through Saturday) to set up your initial exam or request an appointment on-line.
We understand the impact TMJ disorders can have on your day-to-day activities and that is why we accommodate same-day appointments for jaw pain. Your only one phone call away from starting down the path toward relief!
1. Pavia S, Fischer R, Roy R. Chiropractic Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction: A Retrospective Case Series. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2015;14(4):279-284. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2015.08.005.
2. Devocht JW1, Long CR, Zeitler DL, Schaeffer W. Chiropractic treatment of temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument: a prospective case series. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2003 Sep;26(7):421-5.
3. DeVocht JW, Goertz CM, Hondras MA, et al. A pilot study of a chiropractic intervention for management of chronic myofascial temporomandibular disorder. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939). 2013;144(10):1154-1163.