What is TMJ?

Worse than experiencing excruciating pain in your face and jaw is not knowing what’s causing it or how to make it stop.  For many of us, facial pain is related to the temporomandibular joint.  It’s the hinge like joint that is located at the base of the skull in front of the ear structure and connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the upper jaw (maxilla).  Anytime this joint isn’t working properly, it could mean you’re having symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder.

What is TMJ?

      How do you treat TMJ?

            Can Acupuncture fix TMJ?

                  What can chiropractic do for TMJ?


What is TMJ?

Symptoms for TMJ often include pain and tenderness in your jaw, neck, shoulders, and face.  Facial swelling, toothaches, headaches, and dizziness can be associated as well. Hearing problems, ringing in the ears, lock jaw, or clicking and grating sensations when opening and closing your mouth can all result from the disorder.  If you are experiencing any of this pain or discomfort, there is effective treatment that can help.


Treating TMJ. You may be wondering where TMJ would fit in on the list of services that chiropractors can offer. The simple answer is that chiropractic adjustments for TMJ can help relieve related pain and cause a significant improvement in the disorder through the manipulation of trigger points. By relieving tension in the muscles and around the joints through advanced fascial manipulation, the pain associated with TMJ can be eased. A mix of muscle therapies to treat TMJ  may include active release technique, instrument assisted muscle scraping, PIR stretching, manual mobilization and manual stretching of TMJ.

Can TMJ be treated with Acupuncture?

Dry needling can be used to target the muscles and tissues of the jaw, upper back and neck to relieve tension and muscle spasms. The area that is being targeted through dry needling releases trigger points and stimulates the healing response.

At Smart Pain Solutions we follow a system called QAPE. With QAPE the goal is to get to the root of the problem and provide the patient with safe, effective and affordable care in a timely manner. If something is not working or you would be better served by a different provider, we will be courteous of your time and your money by making a prompt referral. Here is an example of how a TMJ case would fit into our QAPE model at a Smart Pain Solutions office.


How to QAPE TMJ!



Question – It is important to determine the genesis of a patient’s condition; how and when it began. Jaw pain can refer from the neck as well as teeth. Before targeting the TMJ joint it is important to rule out other contributing factors.

Assess – This includes palapting and testing the natural motion of the jaw. The clinician will also check for tenderness in certain muscles such as the masseter, temporalis and pterygoids. Imaging may be necessary, but most cases do not require it prior to a trial of care.

Plan – Combination of Dry needling, Active Release through jaw, suboccipitals, upper trapezius muscles, manual stretching and mobilization of jaw, Chiropractic adjustment through neck and upper back. Trial of care 2x/week for 2 weeks. Additional self management strategies such as a night guard or stretching may be recommended depending on the case. 

Execute- During treatment some progress/change should be noted at each visit. If no progress is being made after 2-3 visits a re-evaluation may be necessary leading to a change in plan. If the treatment is working, visits may extend past 2 weeks to achieve maximum medical improvement.

Need an Appointment in Clayton or Bridgeton?

Call us in Bridgeton 314-298-1400 or in Clayton 314-721-5390 to schedule your appointment.
Saturday appointments available upon request.

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