When you hear the abbreviation TMJ, it refers to the temporomandibular or jaw joint. The TMJ connects the lower segment of the jaw to the skull. The TMJ is a heavily used joint, active during chewing and talking. Problems and dysfunction within the TMJ can present in different ways, but here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of an issue:
- Upper and lower teeth don’t align with one another or fit together properly
- Stiffness in the jaw muscles
- Locking or reduced movement of the jaw
- Popping or clicking of the jaw when chewing or talking
- Pain in the jaw that can also radiate into the face and neck
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The Jaw and The Upper Neck
Problems with the jaw may also be connected with spinal issues at the very top of the neck. The atlas vertebra sits at the junction between the skull and the rest of the spine and is in very close proximity to the jaw joint and the ear. The atlas is the most freely movable bone of the spine, contributing to a majority of the head’s range of motion. When it misaligns, however, it can cause problems not only in the neck but also with the jaw and ears. Atlas misalignments can also create a problem with the body’s communication system over the nerves. Abnormal signals can lead to an imbalance in muscle tension from one side of the face to the other, which can create a problem with the way the jaw is able to function.
Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on returning the atlas back to its normal position. This can influence the way the spine and jaw are able to move as well as restore the body’s normal signaling system. This may reduce the symptoms of a TMJ disorder naturally and gently, without the need for medications or more invasive care.
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