TMJ and Upper Cervical Care in Glen Carbon

TMJ and Upper Cervical Care in Glen Carbon

TMJ and Upper Cervical Care in Glen Carbon

As many as 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders. It is the most common type of jaw and facial pain in Glen Carbon. This article will look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this prevalent source of pain and discomfort.

What Is TMJ in Glen Carbon

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which is where the mandible, also called the lower jaw bone, connects to the maxilla. It is a very complex joint with a disc that enables many types of movement of the mandible - open, close, rotation and sliding.

Both joints need to work in coordination with each other as the TMJs are used over 5,000 times every day. Speaking, eating, yawning, laughing, and even swallowing can cause pain when the joint is damaged or hindered in some way.

Movement of the jaw is orchestrated by a complex group of muscles that communicate via our nervous system, specifically through the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve communicates with the muscles of the jaw, face, tongue, sinuses, palate, eyes, teeth and lips. TMJ health requires both normal physical structures and proper nerve communication.

Causes of TMJ Pain

Either direct or indirect injury to the TMJ from a traumatic event such as whiplash, car accidents, sports injuries or even dental work can cause improper function at this joint. Even more mild repetitive actions such as jaw clenching, gum chewing, nail-biting, or supporting a phone between head and shoulder can affect function as well. This dysfunction can eventually lead to pain.

A common but often neglected cause of TMJ dysfunction is trauma to the upper neck that can either affect the joint itself or part of the nervous system called the trigeminal that controls and coordinates the muscles of the jaw. If the TMJ is not functioning properly, the disc can become “pinched,” causing pain in not only the joint itself but other areas in close proximity that are receiving altered nerve communication. Spasms in the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles are also common.

Research studies have found that jaw dysfunction and neck disability were strongly correlated. Furthermore, they confirmed the importance of looking at the “cervical spine and stomatognathic system (jaw/mouth) as a functional entity when evaluating and treating subjects with TMD, neck pain, and muscle tenderness”.

Another study that validated association was done by Herpich and colleagues, where head and neck posture were found to be different between patients with bruxism (teeth clenching). They also found a relationship between posture alterations and TMD severity. They found that jaw dysfunction and neck disability are highly correlated (approximately 82%).

Because of the connection between TMJ dysfunction and the alignment of delicate upper cervical structures, specialized Upper Cervical Chiropractic treatment is an option that those suffering from TMJ disorders should be aware of. Upper Cervical Health Centers of Glen Carbon, IL has Chiropractors that specialize in diagnosing and treating problems related to this nerve-dense area of the spine.

Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction

Over time, abnormal wear and tear of the jaw can cause irritation, inflammation, and eventually, arthritis within the joint itself, all leading to TMJ dysfunction. Symptoms can appear suddenly after a trauma, or take years to develop and affect one or both joints. While some people experience mild difficulties others can find it quite debilitating. Common symptoms may include:

  • Clicking or popping of the TMJ
  • Pain or tenderness in the TMJ with or without chewing
  • Muscle Spasms in the face or neck
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Tooth pain
  • Facial/Neck pain
  • Headache
  • Earache or a feeling of clogged or stuffy ear
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)

A Gentle Correction of Natural Relief

At Upper Cervical Health Centers, Glen Carbon, we believe it’s important for everyone to have a check-up of their spine and specifically their upper cervical spine. If an upper cervical misalignment has altered your jaw or trigeminal nerve function, then addressing it as quickly as possible may help avoid future problems.

Addressing the cause before TMJ symptoms interrupt your life is ideal, but if you are experiencing TMJ pain, you should make your spinal health a priority!

Call our office today for a free consultation. Drs. Thad Vuagniaux and Matt Strazewski at Upper Cervical Glen Carbon are committed to helping those in pain.

Proudly serving the Metro-East and greater St. Louis region including: Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Troy, Hamel, Highland, Belleville, Collinsville, Alton, O’Fallon, Godfrey in Illinois and greater St. Louis, Missouri.


8:00am - 11:30am
3:00pm - 6:00pm

By Appointment

8:30am - 11:30am
3:00pm - 6:00pm

By Appointment

8:30am - 11:30am
3:00pm - 6:00pm

9:00am - 11:00am

Upper Cervical Health Centers
20 Ginger Creek Parkway
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
(618) 692-6992