TMJ disorder is caused by dysfunction in the temporomandibular joints, which connect the lower jaw to the skull. What causes these joints to stop functioning properly? Answering this question is a bit more complicated because there are a number of factors at play. If you have TMJ disorder, here’s what might be causing your pain.
Teeth Grinding or Clenching
Many people believe that stress is the main cause of TMJ disorder, but this is only partially correct. Stress itself doesn’t cause pain in the temporomandibular joints, but for many people, stress causes muscle tension throughout the body, which in turn causes them to clench their jaws or grind their teeth at night. Clenching and grinding place a great deal of stress on the joints and teeth, which can lead to TMJ disorder over time.
Naturally, telling a patient to decrease the amount of stress in their lives is easier said than done; although we encourage you to make lifestyle changes, we also offer solutions that alleviate your immediate pain and prevent the nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching that are causing your TMJ disorder.
Another common cause of TMJ disorder is an injury to the joint or jaw. Even an injury to the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joints can lead to pain. A blow to the head or accident can dislocate the disc between the ball and socket of the joint or the jaw can be moved out of proper alignment, setting the stage for chronic pain.
In cases where an injury is involved, pain may resolve on its own once the body heals from the trauma. Other times, the injury is permanent and must be treated in order to help you find lasting relief. We offer innovative treatment protocols to help you avoid invasive surgeries involving the injured joint.
Just like joints elsewhere in the body, the temporomandibular joints can be affected by arthritis. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may attack the TMJ, causing one or both of the joints to slowly break down over time. Because arthritis is a degenerative condition, we don’t expect the symptoms to reverse themselves or get better without medical intervention.
At TMJ Plus Wellness Center, we take a holistic approach to TMJ disorder caused by arthritis. We’ll collaborate with your physician or rheumatologist to address the underlying cause of your pain, and also provide you with relief for your immediate symptoms. Dr. Coats has a network of specialists who can help you achieve better overall health and find long-term relief for your TMJ pain in the process.
Imbalance of the Spine
There is no part of the body that works in isolation, and this is true of the TMJ. Jaw muscles work with the neck muscles, and the neck connects to the shoulders and spine—when one of these is off-balance, the whole system becomes off-balance. Your teeth, bite, temporomandibular joints, neck, and spine muscles are all related, so Dr. Coats evaluates each of them when you come to TMJ Plus Wellness Center for a consultation. By correcting any imbalances, we can put you on the road to recovery from TMJ disorder. Please ask us about the other providers that are part of our wellness center to treat posture.