T M J
The Temporomandibular Joint
If you place your fingers in front of either ear and open your jaw, you'll feel changing shapes beneath your fingers. You are feeling the joint where the temporal bone of your skull attaches to your mandible (jaw)-the joint that is called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This fascinating joint connects your jaw to your head. Ligaments, cartilage, fascia, an articular disc, muscles, nerves and blood vessels run in, around and through the TMJ.
TMJ dysfunction or syndrome occurs when the joint is misaligned or malfunctioning in some way that subjects it to excess pressure. The condition was first identified in 1934 by the otolaryngologist, J. B. Costen.
Among the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are the inability to open the mouth wide and a clicking or popping sound when the mouth opens or closes. In some cases, the jaw can even temporarily lock up.
Other TMJ symptoms can be severe headaches; loss of hearing; tinnitus (ringing in the ears); the sensation of an object in the throat; facial swelling; shoulder, cheek or jaw joint pain; neckache; tic douloureux (facial nerve pain); pain in or under the ear, the eye or upon swallowing; tooth pain; migraine; nausea; blurred vision and dizziness.
Some researchers have even linked TMJ dysfunction to throat infections, sinus congestion, ear infections and asthma. Others have linked the syndrome to heart, stomach, intestinal, respiratory and emotional disorders.
The Chiropractic Approach
A properly aligned spine helps the TM joint. Spinal and TMJ problems are often found together.
Chiropractic care, especially in the area of the upper cervical spine and skull, often relieves pressure on the spine and the cranial bones.
Sitting in a dentist's chair and keeping your jaw, head, neck and lower spine in an unnatural or uncomfortable position can cause TMJ and spinal damage. It is therefore strongly recommended that if you undergo dental care follow it up with a visit to your chiropractor.