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TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, a sliding hinge that joins the jaw with temporal bones of the skull located just in front of the ear. The group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in this joint and the attached muscles is commonly called “TMJ”, but is technically known as TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder.

It is estimated that more than 35 million people in the United States suffer with some type of TMJ disorder, and it appears to be more common in women. In most cases, pain in the jaw joint or muscles does not mean there is a serious problem. However, living with the pain and annoyance of this disorder does not have to be the long-term solution. Chiropractic care can assist your body in naturally healing and relieving the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders without using drugs or invasive procedures that can cause permanent changes in your bite or jaw.

Symptoms and Causes of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder can cause symptoms to appear in surrounding areas and present in a multitude of ways. The pain is commonly described as dull and achy, though some people have no pain at all but still have trouble moving their jaws. Keep in mind, occasional clicking or discomfort in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is common and not always a reason to be concerned. Symptoms may include:

  • Jaw: joint pain, muscle pain, clicking, popping, grating, locking of the jaw, crackling, tenderness, stiffness, limited movement

  • Mouth: toothache, difficulty chewing and/or swallowing, speech impediment, breathing problems, bite feels “off”

  • Ear: ear pain, pressure, ringing (tinnitus), fullness

  • Face/head: muscle spasms, difficulty with facial expressions, headaches or migraines, shoulder and/or neck pain, dizziness, vision problems


There can be multiple causes of TMJ disorder, adding to the complexity of this issue – as well as cases where no obvious cause can be found. Some known causes are:

  • joint misalignment

  • teeth clenching or grinding

  • poor posture

  • injuries

  • autoimmune diseases (in which the body’s immune cells attack healthy tissue)

  • infections

  • dental procedures (even prolonged mouth opening)

  • breathing tube inserted for surgery


In addition, there are genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors that can increase the risk for TMJ disorder. There is a particular pain sensitivity gene found more commonly among these sufferers. Female sex hormones, particularly estrogen, may play a role in the observation that TMJ problems are more prevalent among women of childbearing age. Environmental factors may also contribute to TMJ disorders, such as habitual gum chewing or sustained jaw positions – such as resting a phone on your shoulder. Singers and musicians, such as violinists, may also be susceptible to these issues due to the positioning of the head and neck to hold the instrument or the way it stretches the jaw.

Treatment Options

If you suffer from TMJ disorders, you do not have to resort to drugs with dangerous side effects, surgery, or irreversible procedures that actually change the function of the jaw and may make the problems even worse. One of the most effective treatments is for you to visit a chiropractor. We can analyze your health history, examine your skeletal system, and provide recommendations to not merely relieve your symptoms, but to find and cure the root cause of your problem.

If you are experiencing acute or chronic TMJ pain, contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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