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Chiropractic Therapy for TMJ Dysfunction

Posted in TMJ on Dec 19, 2018

TMJ dysfunction is mostly an adult syndrome, however, TMJ dysfunction in neonates has been discussed in the literature but little research has been done to determine its prevalence. This article will discuss TMJ dysfunction in adults and discuss the possibility of TMJ dysfunction in neonates.

 Most health issues start over time and can have their roots in childhood trauma such as falls, bike accidents, sports injuries and other trauma that predisposes the musculoskeletal system to imbalance. 

 Because the brainstem is the seat of control for muscle tone throughout the body there are many conditions that have their root cause in upper cervical spine misalignment and concomitant associations of TMJ, TMJ and parasympathetic dysfunction, tonsillitis in TMJ Dysfunction, and a host of other conditions that are anatomically far removed from the upper cervical spine.

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 In this article, we will discuss the upper cervical spine’s role in the development of TMJ dysfunction in neonates and how it can progress into adulthood. Like most conditions they start slowly often asymptomatic, and eventually, symptoms emerge as the body's ability to adapt to the stresses of life begin to deteriorate.

 Often in our health care system we only “treat” patients when they are symptomatic, often ignoring how to maximize the body's ability to function properly. This article will also discuss some simple things you can do prior to becoming symptomatic that can encourage normal nervous system function and health before you get sick. 

This is what should occur in a HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.  We should be encouraging procedures and lifestyle choices that help us stay healthy before we get sick.

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TMJ is most often caused by imbalances in the muscles of mastication which causes the TMJ joint to malfunction. TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body. It is known as a hinge joint but is more complex because it also has a disc in the middle of the joint and is used more frequently than any other joint in the body. 

The question is why do the muscles of mastication become imbalanced? The mastication muscle tone is controlled by the trigeminal nucleus which is housed in the brain stem.  Interference to its normal function can result from an upper cervical spine injury. 

When an injury occurs to the neck it can cause several things to occur. The neck muscles become tight which straightens the normal lordosis of the neck. Loss of normal cervical spine lordosis can cause tethering of the spinal cord which can cause the trigeminal nucleus to misfire resulting in abnormal tone in the TMJ and other areas of the body.

 Once the muscles of mastication are imbalanced the TMJ no longer fits normally and can lead to clicking, jaw pain and other symptoms related to TMJ pathology.

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TMJ dysfunction in neonates is somewhat nebulous like many conditions because it is difficult to assess them objectively and subjectively.  There are several publications in the scientific literature that discuss TMJ dysfunction in neonates and its relationship to birth trauma.

 Forceps deliveries and vacuum extraction deliveries are known to induce upwards of 50 pounds of force to an infant’s neck which can cause spinal misalignment at the craniocervical junction (CCJ). As discussed already, CCJ misalignment can cause the muscles of mastication to become imbalanced leading to TMJ dysfunction. 

It is advised that newborns be checked by a trained upper cervical chiropractor to make sure that an infant’s upper cervical spine is biomechanically normal following birth to ensure that normal development of the spine and nervous system will follow. 

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Not only can this correct TMJ dysfunction in neonates if it exists, but it can also be preventative so it doesn’t happen in the first place.

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TMJ dysfunction in neonates can be associated with tonsillitis. There also appears to be a close association between TMJ dysfunction, increased incidence of tonsillitis, increased incidents of inner ear disorders,  and vertigo and tinnitus.  

Unfortunately, our current way of dealing with health care is to wait until people develop subjective symptoms. It would be far easier to correct the underlying causes of these disorders before they manifest into chronic conditions.

 As we have discussed there is an intimate connection between upper cervical spine injury and the syndromes related to TMJ and other conditions that are affected by brainstem interference resulting from CCJ misalignment. 

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Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic-What Is Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractors are well-trained specialty doctors who focus ALL their attention on the relationship of the skull, atlas, axis, and their relationship to the brainstem and associated spinal nerves.  Blair Upper Cervical Doctors run tests to locate spinal cord pressure and interference resulting from spinal misalignment.

  Once the patient is determined to have a spinal misalignment, precise imaging is taken using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) or digital x-ray to visualize the joints and how they misalign. Each joint in the upper cervical spine fits as a mirror image with the other.

 If spinal misalignment exists by viewing each joint the doctor can determine exactly how the vertebrae have misaligned from normal and determine the angulation of the joint. This information, which is unique to each individual, is then used in making a precise spinal correction without using any twisting, popping, or pulling. 

 The goal of the care is to stabilize the biomechanics of the upper cervical spine, so the central nervous system can function without structural interference. Because the muscles of mastication are controlled by the brainstem, irritation to the brainstem from upper cervical spine misalignment can be one underlying cause.

The correction of the upper cervical spine allows the central nervous system to function more normally. Once corrected the spine will strive towards better posture, cervical curve loss will correct towards a more normal lordosis, in doing so pressure and strain on the spinal cord are relieved and more normal function ensues.

 While Blair Upper Cervical Care is NOT a cure-all for TMJ dysfunction it can help improve the quality of life for the person affected and in some cases halt or correct TMJ dysfunction. 

Correcting the upper cervical spine can help TMJ but is also a health care procedure that should be used by everyone to ensure proper nervous system function. If you or a loved one sufferer with TMJ dysfunction or other chronic health issues our office offers a FREE consultation where you can have your questions answered and go through an exam that will determine whether your case can be helped or not.