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What Is TMJ Syndrome and How Can Chiropractic Help?

Woman in pain from TMJ

What Is TMJ Syndrome and How Can Chiropractic Help?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the temporal bone with the condylar process (flange of bone) of the mandible (jaw bone). There is a TMJ on each side of your skull. The joint provides for all motion of the jaw in relation to the skull, including elevation, depression, protraction, and retraction. The temporal bone is a highly complex structure. Cranial nerve VII (facial nerve) is located within the temporal bone's facial canal. The tympanic part of the temporal bone surrounds the external auditory meatus, forming the canal that transmits auditory signals to the auditory nerve.

The TMJ is a diarthrodial joint, as are many other joints in the human body, and comprises ligaments, a cartilaginous disc, a joint capsule, and a synovial membrane. As a diarthrodial joint, the TMJ is subject to inflammatory disorders, including degenerative arthritis, and movement of the TMJ may become quite painful. TMJ syndrome describes head, ear, and jaw pain; joint crepitus of the TMJ; joint dysfunction; and tenderness of the muscles of mastication. Joint crepitus is a sensation of grinding, grating, crunching, or popping upon movement of a joint. TMJ joint dysfunction is characterized by deviation of the jaw to one side on opening of the mouth and/or inability to insert 3 fingers vertically when the mouth is open. The jaw deviates to the side of a weak muscle, such as the pterygoids. The muscles of mastication are the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoids, all extending from the zygomatic and temporal bones to the mandible TMJ.

Regarding TMJ pain, sensory innervation to the TMJ is provided by the mandibular branch (mandibular nerve; V3) of cranial nerve V (the trigeminal nerve). Muscle spasm related to the TMJ may involve the motor branches of V3, which supply the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid muscles. Muscle spasm may contribute to substantial pain as a component of TMJ syndrome.

TMJ syndrome may involve radiating pain, especially to the jaw line and ear, irritating the auditory canal. There may be aching facial pain, pain around and in the ear, and locking of the TMJ, interfering with normal opening and closing of the mouth.

Chiropractic care is an especially important component of a comprehensive, holistic program of treatment for TMJ syndrome. Chiropractic care detects, analyzes, and corrects spinal nerve irritation and spinal joint dysfunction. In the case of TMJ syndrome, the vertebral joints of the neck and their associated spinal nerves may be specifically implicated. Additionally, using gentle manual procedures directed toward the TMJ itself, chiropractic care is able to relax and reduce muscle spasm in the jaw muscles surrounding the TMJ and help to restore normal TMJ mobility. Additional treatment for TMJ syndrome may include use of a mouth retainer at night (nocturnal occlusal guard) to act as a "sling" and help prevent grinding of the teeth while asleep. As well, psychological counseling may be of benefit.

Overall, chiropractic care provides specific treatment for TMJ syndrome. Your chiropractor may also recommend a restorative nutrition program and exercise routines to assist your overall recovery and return to optimal health and well-being.

Chantaracherd P, et al: Temporomandibular joint disorders' impact on pain, function, and disability. J Dent Res 94(3 Suppl):79S-86S, 2015

Fernández-de-las-Penas C, Svensson P: Myofascial Temporomandibular Disorder. Curr Rheumatol Rev 12(1):40-54, 2016

Sanders C, et al: Temporomandibular Disorder Diagnostic Groups Affect Outcomes Independently of Treatment in Patients at Risk for Developing Chronicity: A 2-Year Follow-Up Study. J Oral Facial Pain Headache 30(3):187-202, 2016

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  • "Great people -- friendly, caring, knowledgeable and accommodating. Doc Eulo and his staff do the job with the utmost of attention to patient needs and concerns. The range of services offered by this practice is considerable, including things beyond the ordinary chiropractics such as orthotic appliances with professional evaluation and fitting, dietary evaluations and supplements, and USDOT Physical Examinations for drivers of commercial motor vehicles."
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  • "Doc Eulo is nothing short of amazing. The staff is excellent. I said the same thing about them 21 years ago when I first starting going to Dr. Eulo. Back then he took care of me and my aching back when I was pregnant, and even adjusted my newborn!"
    - Robin W.
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    - Ollie H.
  • "Dr Eulo is the best of the best and he is the coolest doctor that I know. August 2015 I was involved in a car accident, someone referred him to me, the first day I walked into his office I was in so much pain from my head to toe, I was a mess, three times a week for 6 months he was working on my aches and pains and I am here to tell you I'm pain free. Every time I walked in his office he put on my R & B Oldies did I say he was the coolest yes I did, he makes you feel very comfortable like one of the family , he has an awesome personality and a great staff too. I would recommend him to anyone, he is definitely one in a million."
    - Constance G.
  • "Went to Dr. Eulo for treatment from an auto accident. The Dr. and his staff are very professional and makes your visit very pleasant. His knowledge and practice helped me very much with my injuries and I'm glad I chose Dr. Eulo as my chiropractor. If you're looking for a chiropractor, Eulo Chiropractic Center is the place to go!"
    - William B.
  • "It is always a pleasure to go see Dr. Eulo. He is a very positive, caring and knowledgeable doctor. You will always leave his office with a smile on your face. His office is beautiful and the staff is very friendly and professional. Dr. Eulo has successfully treated me for a frozen shoulder when an orthopedic surgeon thought that I would need surgery. My shoulder is fine now thanks to Dr. Eulo. He has also treated me for severe back spasms when I could hardly walk. Within a few days of treatment the pain was greatly diminished and now it is gone completely. He is the best.Thanks Dr. Eulo!"
    - Carol S.
  • "Dr. Eulo's treatments for my neck and back pain have been super helpful. He gives a thorough adjustment of neck, back and all joints and follows it up by a nice, relaxing massage bed. I leave the office feeling restored and like my body is back in it's best working condition. The office is neat and professional and Dr. Eulo is very down to earth, spends time with me and truly cares about my overall health. I've been to many chiropractors over many years, so I know a good chiropractor when I see him! Good vibes there - give it a try! :)"
    - KellySue F.
  • "Dr. Eulo is the BEST chiropractor, hands down. The staff is friendly, the office is always clean, and Dr. Eulo is the nicest doctor. I have anxiety when it comes to doctors and going for "check ups" but Dr. Eulo makes me feel comfortable. I wish he could be my doctor for everything! I would recommend Dr. Eulo in a heart beat."
    - Ashley J.