The temporomandibular joint is commonly referred to as TMJ. It is the joint where the jaw joins the skull just forward of the ears. The name comes from the skull portion of the joint which is in the temporal bone and the jaw portion which is the mandible.
The TMJ is the most active joint in the body. It is held together by a complex structure of muscles, tendons and ligaments which help it move up to 2000 times a day, mostly for eating and talking. The TMJ syndrome includes a variety of symptoms such as face and neck pain, earaches and headaches which can transform the simple act of eating a meal into a very painful experience. It is usually described as a one-sided, moderately severe, dull facial pain that is localized in an area just forward of the ear.
Some contributing factors are abnormal contracting of the muscles involving the jaw and the neck due to trauma and the gripping or grinding of the teeth as a result of emotional stress. Abnormal position of the jaw due to loss of teeth on one or both sides and excessive thinning of the jaw bone involving dentures.
An additionally disturbing symptom of TMJ is a loud clicking or popping noise while eating or when the mouth is opened wide. Hard to chew foods should be avoided as well as foods like apples and large sandwiches which require wide opening of the mouth.
Once the TMJ syndrome has developed, it is usually best treated with chiropractic spinal manipulation to help establish normal muscle tone between the jaw and the spine.
If there are associated dental problems, they should be corrected simultaneously for maximum, quick response.
If there is a TMJ sufferer in your life. Please suggest that they give us a call.