Temporomandibular disorders impact the joint that is located where your skull meets the lower jaw. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ include, but aren’t limited to, difficulty chewing, jaw clicking, a dull, achy pain in the facial area, headaches and earaches. These symptoms are caused by the joint being out of alignment and can be a result of muscle fibrous bands (scar like tissues) in the jaw muscles that can occur due to teeth clenching or grinding and poor posture as well. The symptoms come about when muscles tense up causing the skull and lower jaw to pull closer together and end up misaligned, putting pressure on the joint, tearing or stretching ligaments and compressing the disc which pulls it out of position (a common occurrence in whiplash injuries). In some cases this leads to joint degeneration, when the disc wears away, causing the bones to rub against and irritate the nerves.
How Poor Posture Causes TMJ
The body performs perfectly when all of the muscles, bones and joints are properly aligned. If you repetitively slouch in your chair at work, or are hunched over in front of a computer all day, you’re basically getting your body in the habit of holding itself in a far from ideal position. Poor posture then causes a domino effect that can cause a long list of problems, including the fact that a misaligned spine may end up causing your lower jaw to thrust outward, create a bad bite, one of the top causes of TMJ. One of the primary causes of TMJ besides posture is trauma that includes dental work, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
TMJ and Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
Upper cervical chiropractors are trained to address any underlying posture problems and help TMJ sufferers. These physicians go beyond just examining your jaw and consider their patient’s overall lifestyle. A comprehensive approach to wellness helps them establish the best course of action regarding therapy and upper cervical chiropractic care may be used for treatment of TMJ, based on the cause of the jaw disorder. During the realignment, part of the examination may include pressing on your jawbone, the skull and upper spine which in most cases will increase the jaw’s range of motion and relieve irritated nerves. In addition, soft tissue based treatments that include active release techniques might also be incorporated. This tissue based therapy has been proven to break up scar tissues and adhesions on the surrounding ligaments and muscle.
The primary objective of upper cervical chiropractic care is to reverse trauma induced upper neck injuries, whether it’s due to factors that range from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries or poor posture. Upper cervical care will reduce irritation to the brain stems nerves and spinal cord that control the neuromuscular function in the jaw and face.
While many TMJ sufferers remember specific incidences that caused the injuries, a surprising number do not and if the injury was caused by poor posture that makes sense because TMJ symptoms due to posture can take a while to appear. It’s important to have an evaluation to assess whether or not an upper cervical related injury exists and whether you can benefit from upper cervical care.
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Dr. Pete Tsiglieris of Advanced Spinal Care in Redwood City, California is an Upper Cervical Specialist trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). His upper cervical clinic also serves San Mateo, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Carlos, and Sunnyvale. They are uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including migraines and other headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain and weakness. More information can be found on our website at http://www.bayareanuccacare.com/.