A frequent condition we see is jaw pain – medically referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
TMD is a common condition characterised by pain, and sometimes clicking, on opening of the jaw, usually on one side. Headaches, toothaches, limited range of movement of the jaw can also occur.
I want you now to swallow.
What happens during this process?
We approximate our teeth and, in so doing, mobilise our jaw.
When you realise that this process takes place approximately 2,400 times per day, it is not difficult to imagine that the temporomandibular joint is the most highly used joint in the body. As it is involved in swallowing, talking, biting and chewing, it is no wonder that a troublesome jaw can be a painful and frustrating problem.
The jaw joint is made up of the mandible (the real jaw bone) and the outer side of the skull, called the temporal bone.
If you place your fingers just 1cm in front of your ear, they will be on the temporomandibular joint. Then slowly open and close your mouth as far as you can. Ideally you should feel a symmetrical movement that is taking place under your fingers and the movement should be pain-free. However, if you suffer from TMD, when you open and close your mouth you may notice that one jaw joint moves before the other one; that it clicks; or that it is sore or even painful.
Apart from trauma to the joint itself, bruxism (or grinding of one’s teeth) seems to be the biggest causative factor in the development of TMD.
The jaw itself is controlled by powerful muscles. Bruxism causes over or under-activation of certain muscle groups and restriction of the jaw joint itself, which over time results in pain and headaches.
In order to secure the best outcome, your chiropractor will use specific muscle and joint mobilisation techniques with a view to restoring better mechanical function. This, in turn, will reduce pain. Exercises and advice will then be given to prevent recurrence of the problem.
If you think you are suffering from TMD, you do not have to learn to live with it. Something can be done about it!
Our Guildford Chiropractors see patients who have suffered with this debilitating condition for years and, with hindsight, regret they had not received treatment sooner.
For further information please visit To Your Health.
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