TMJ Pain - Temporomandibular Joint

TMJ Pain - Temporomandibular Joint

There are two Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ), one on each side of the face. They connect the jawbone to the skull and act like sliding hinges to open and close the mouth. They are important in chewing, talking, biting, singing, and making facial expressions.

The TMJ complex involves the jawbone, skull, tendons, ligaments, muscles and 2 discs. The discs are like cushions within each joint. The muscles around the TMJ include superficial muscles (close to the surface), and deep muscles (deep within the tissues), and they are collectively called the muscles of mastication.

Problems with the TMJ or the surrounding structures cause temporomandibular dysfunction. This is often referred to as TMJ.



There are many causes of dysfunction. Any problem with the bones, joints, muscles or connective tissues around the joint can cause TMJ. Some of the more common causes include the following:

1) Injury- falling, car accidents, fights and any direct trauma to the area can cause damage to the joint and muscles.

2) Disc dislocation- the cushioning disc within the joint itself can become dislodged or stop gliding properly which can cause the joint to stop opening and closing properly.

3) Tight muscles- the muscles that attach the head to the jaw can become tight enough that they pull the jaw to one side when opening and closing the jaw.

4) Stress- stress can cause tension in all the muscles, which can contribute to grinding and clenching the jaw.

5) Weak posture- the muscles that attach to the head and jaw also attach to the neck and shoulders. Stress on postural muscles alters motion in the TMJ.


Due to the potential complexity of determining the cause of TMJ symptoms, it is always best to seek treatment with a health care professional familiar with all the different causes of TMJ. Most TMJ is benign and responds well to chiropractic care. The chiropractors at Lyn Lake Chiropractic can help determine the cause of TMJ symptoms, and help you decide if chiropractic care for TMJ might help you.


TMJ problems can have many symptoms that can be present all the time, or come and go with motion, chewing, stress levels, or opening and closing the jaw. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ include the following:

• Jaw Pain.
• Pain in the face or neck
• Ear pain
• Headaches
• Difficulty chewing
• Inability to open the mouth
• Clicking
• Jaw locking or popping
• Stiffness


A health care professional familiar with all the causes of TMJ symptoms can evaluate your condition to determine the cause of symptoms. Once the cause has been determined, most TMJ symptoms will resolve with conservative, non-surgical, treatment.

Biomechanical Issues

The TMJ slides, glides and rotates. As the mouth starts to open the jawbone begins to rotate. As the mouth opens more widely the TMJ glides down and forward and continues to rotate slightly. The reverse happens when closing the mouth. There is a soft disc in the middle of the joint that cushions the joint and glides with the bottom part of the joint. Muscles, tendons and ligaments stabilize the TMJ.

There are two joints, one on each side of the face, that are connected by the one jawbone. If muscles on one side of the face are stronger than the other they will pull the jawbone to one side when it is opening and closing. This causes uneven wear and tear on the joints. Any muscle in the body become stronger with use and weaker with disuse- the muscles of mastication follow this same rule. When one side of the jaw is used more than the other side of the jaw, like chewing on one side consistently (especially with gum chewing), the stronger muscles pull tighter and cause the jaw to move unequally.

The disc within the joint can become locked in one place and stop gliding with the jawbone. If this happens it can block the motion of the TMJ so that the mouth cannot open all the way.

The muscles around the jaw connect to the front and back of the neck. Poor posture, with the shoulders rounded and the head forward, causes stress on all the muscles around the neck, including the jaw muscles. This frequently contributes to TMJ pain.



While many medical doctors will listen to the symptoms and provide medications that temporarily relieve pain, or refer to a surgeon, chiropractic for TMJ includes a thorough examination of the muscles, ligaments, joints, posture, and gait, as well as discussing past injuries and lifestyle habits that may be contributing to your condition. The chiropractors at Lyn Lake Chiropractic also have specialty training in complex joint and soft tissue problems that may cause TMD. This training gives patients the confidence that their doctor is providing thorough chiropractic TMJ pain relief.


Most TMJ conditions respond well to conservative treatment like chiropractic, and do not require surgery. Chiropractic care for TMJ generally includes several techniques, each chosen to relieve specific causes of TMJ. At Lyn Lake Chiropractic  incorporates:

• Chiropractic adjustments: Gentle, controlled, and directed adjustments delivered to your joints and tissues to restore optimal movement and function.

• Myofascial Release (MFR): TMJ pain can be associated with overly tight and over worked muscles in the jaw, shoulder, neck and upper back. MFR works with the muscles and the soft tissues between the muscles to relax them and optimize their function. Similar to massage, MFR is a more focused and deep treatment of the soft tissues to relieve pain and restore movement.

• Active Release Technique (ART): This is a very targeted treatment of specific regions in the muscles and other soft tissues to release scar tissue, and impure muscle function.

If you have any question please feel free to call 
Lyn Lake Chiropractic or call your local chiropractor.

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