The jaw joints, or temporomandibular joints (TMJ), connect the lower jawbone to the skull. These flexible joints allow the jaw to open and close in a wide variety of movements, for talking, chewing, swallowing, yawning, and other functions. TMJ disorders can affect the jaw and jaw joint as well as muscles in the face, shoulder, head, and neck. Experts believe that approximately 20 percent of the population will, at some time, suffer from some form of TMJ disorder, and about 5 percent are currently in pain and looking for help.
While the most common cause of TMJ symptoms is muscle tension, often triggered by stress, TMJ can initially develop when there is a problem with the joint itself, such as instances where there is an injury to the joint or surrounding tissues, disc displacement, structural problems of the joint or even a degenerative joint disease.
Common symptoms include:
- joint pain
- muscle pain
- joint sounds
- difficulty with fully opening the mouth
- jaw locking
TMJ symptoms can be treated by reducing muscle tension and stress on the jaw. Acupuncture releases the symptoms of TMJ, including muscle tension in the jaw, headache, ringing in the ears, and referred neck pain. Acupuncture works by relaxing the muscles, which makes it effective for TMJ symptoms caused by stress. For people with TMJ who may have an underlying cause due to poor posture, poor body alignment or disc displacement, Chiropractic care is very helpful. The manipulation or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal. In addition, Massage therapy can also provide relief from stress and muscle tightness.