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Chiropractic Care for TMJ

Published Date: 
August 7, 2023
Middle-aged woman suffering from TMJ pain holding the side of her face.

Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for TMJ disorders. It’s non-invasive and allows your body to correct the problem, offering long-term relief and a low risk of recurrence. While surgery and implants can correct it, they carry significant risks and offer little in terms of reduction of any future risk.

Understanding TMJ

TMJ disorders affect the temporomandibular joint. This joint acts as a hinge and connects your skull and your jawbone. When this joint is swollen, irritated, or misaligned, it can cause pain and limit movement.

You have two temporomandibular joints – one on each side of your jaw. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) causes pain and restricts movement. People with temporomandibular joint disorder struggle to open their mouths.

There are different causes of TMJ disorder; in many cases, you’ll never know precisely how the condition developed. It often results from long-term clenching or grinding of the teeth or jaw. It can also be caused by injury, arthritis, genetics, or a combination of these factors.

TMJ disorder might be temporary. Some people experience discomfort for a short time based on their lifestyle or make a few adjustments at home and resolve the problem. In other cases, TMJ pain is chronic and requires medical intervention. Surgery is an option but is almost always considered a last resort.


Young woman lying in bed holding both sides of her jaw.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw
  • Aching facial pain
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Locking of the joint so you can’t open or close your mouth or it hurts to do so
  • Dull, aching pain around the ear, which may extend to the side and back of the head or down the neck
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty or pain when eating, talking, or opening and closing the mouth
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain or pain in the affected joint
  • Lockjaw

You might also feel a grinding or clicking when opening your mouth. It might not be painful, but it feels unusual or uncomfortable.

How Chiropractors Treat TMJ

There are several things a chiropractor can do to treat TMJ disorders.

One of the primary things a chiropractor does is perform a spinal adjustment. This means they manually move the discs and vertebrae on your back to allow the messages between your brain and the rest of your body to move along your spinal column. When you have a spinal misalignment, it’s likely to cause problems throughout your body, including painful jaw symptoms. The imbalance stresses the TMJ problem and causes fatigue in the muscles in the area.

Most TMJ pain is caused by one of two issues:

  • A spinal problem that affects the jaw
  • Muscle weakness around the jaw

It might also be a combination of these two issues.

Chiropractor adjusting jaw of woman suffering from TMJ disorder.

Once your chiropractor identifies which of these two issues is a factor, they’ll correct the problem. The goal is to allow your body to come into balance and heal itself without any medication, appliances, or surgery. They use specific, calculated movements on your spine to promote alignment and allow the body to function at an optimal level.

In addition to chiropractic adjustment, chiropractors will use other techniques to treat TMJ pain. Specific things chiropractors might use to address TMJ disorder include:

Additionally, they might suggest exercises or stretches that you can do on your own at home to help you manage TMJ pain.

Benefits of Managing TMJ Pain with Chiropractic Care

Woman with TMJ disorder have her jaw adjusted by chiropractor.
  • Chiropractors manipulate your joints to promote pain relief. It’s safe and natural, and it does not hurt. They align your joints to ease tension and reduce swelling and discomfort. 
  • Chiropractors work on the entire area surrounding the TMJ, relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. They also work on your spine to ensure proper alignment. When your spine is in alignment, your body can function optimally and heal anything that might be wrong, including TMJ pain.
  • Chiropractors educate you about your condition and provide information about what you can do to improve your symptoms and your overall health. They’ll give information on nutrition, exercises, and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce TMJ symptoms.
  • Chiropractic care is natural and does not rely on or advocate for using pharmaceuticals to mask symptoms. Their goal is to identify and address the root cause of the problem so your body heals from the symptoms and your future risk of TMJ is reduced.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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