It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Having TMJ problems completely completely bites – pun intended.
When your jaw hurts because you have TMJ problems you notice it all the time, or at least a lot. Why – because to survive you have to eat, and to eat, you have to chew. And, its not just eating. If you unconsciously grind your teeth that will hurt, too. If you are stressed, you feel it. Like your feet, which you need every day, your TMJ tends to get worse over time, never better, unless you get some help.
So what causes TMJ? Anything! Any problems with the joint and the ligament + cartilagenous disc inside the joint itself (which is where your jawbone attaches to your skull) can cause mild to horrific pain. But what is really causing that? Where does that come from. There are lots of reasons…but here is one that I think is an 80%er – stress. Here are some other reasons: Car accidents, neck injuries, blunt trauma to the jaw, chronic muscle tightness in your neck and head, problems + imbalanced with your feet (yes you read that right), problems, misalignment and imbalances with yous pelvis + sacrum (yes, you read that right as well), uneven bite, grinding your teeth at night, feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, and lots more.
I’d say about 5-10% of TMJ problems need a serious and invasive intervention – meaning surgery. 90-95% of the time your BODY CAN HEAL ITSELF – so long as we get to the underlying cause and remove whatever is blocking your body from being in that self-healing homeostatic state. And that, dear friends, is 95% of the time stress. Not only is stress the cause of 80-85% of disease in America, it is the cause of chronic problems like TMJ and neck pain.
Stress causes our muscles to contract and our posture to adapt and contort. Basically, we tie our selves in a knot when our body + mind don’t have the tools to resolve its own stress and tension. Our posture changes dramatically. Even subtle changes in posture can cause pain – especially in the jaw. How the heck does that work? Simple – the top bones in your spine have a direct pulley system connecting it with the jaw (they are bands of connective tissue connecting your jaw to your vertebrae and the spinal cord itself). So, more stress, worse posture, more TMJ problems. Again, 90-95% of TMJ problems can be healed naturally.
What is so great about that is that if you can heal TMJ naturally by getting to a deeper cause, that means can also heal a whole lot more. I often see headaches, brain fog, memory problems, ADD, Allergies, Thyroid problems, a feeling of overwhelm, anxiety, trouble breathing deep, all improve when we start helping the underlying causes of TMJ. The body is amazing, when we can teach it to heal its own stress, it will move back into harmony and well-being. And that is so amazing because then we can naturally feel happier, more connected, more focused, have better relationships, and feel more creative. Best yet – we proved this with a landmark study at the University of California Irvine. 76% of a study group of 2818 people had improvements in physical pain like TMJ, but also had better stress management skills, felt happier, had less anxiety and depression, and had a much greater enjoyment of life.
So, the take home points are as follows. First, If you experience TMJ pain and problems, even if it has been around for a long time – it can heal. Second, know that the pain you are experiencing is simply your body saying, “Stop, Pay Attention, and Do Something Different.” ANYTIME we have pain that does not resolve on its own I can promise you there is stress that is not resolving.
Get help. I can help. Call us and set up an appointment to see how Gentle Network Chiropractic in Charlotte, NC can help you not only heal your pain, but totally improve the quality of your life.
To your health,
Dr. Matt Lyon