It seems like we all know someone who suffers with TMJ pain and dysfunction in Fort Collins, maybe it’s even you. The temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, is the joint that allows the jaw to move when opening and closing the mouth. Specifically, they are the joints between the temporal bone (skull) and the mandible (jaw). The two joints are located on the left and right edges of the face, immediately in front of each ear. When they become injured and/or misaligned, these joints can become chronic sources of pain, popping, grinding and clicking. TMJ pain can truly affect a person’s life – tremendously! These two joints are necessary for all opening and closing motions of the mouth including speaking and eating. Pain levels can become quite severe if the problem is not corrected. There are several reasons why the temporomandibular joint can become inflamed. The two most common are:
1. Traumatic forces applied to the joints. This includes sports collisions, sleeping on your sides often, falls, punches and any other direct force. A full speed collision while playing softball, for example, can really devastate such a small joint.
2. Spinal misalignment within the neck causing altered nerve supply to the joints. There is an intimate neurological connection between the upper spine and the TMJ. When nerve function is altered within the upper neck due to simple spinal misalignments known as subluxations, the temporomandibular joint can often be negatively affected, causing jaw pain. The subluxation is almost always within the upper three most vertebra of the neck.