On October 15, 2020, the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published the results of a case study documenting the resolution of chronic temporomandibular disorder with chiropractic care. Temporomandibular disorders are problems typically involving pain of the temporomandibular joints, commonly referred to as the TMJ.
According to John Hopkins Medical website, “Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.”
Some of the more common symptoms of TMD are pain in and around the TMJ, headaches, abnormal jaw movement, or clicking sounds upon opening or closing the mouth. The study reports that about 30% of the adult population is affected by TMD at some time in their lives, with women, typically in the ages of 25 to 44, having this issue more commonly than men.
In this case, a 36-year-old woman went to the chiropractor because she was suffering with left sided TMJ pain. She reported that she had hit herself in the jaw while weightlifting several years earlier severely enough to break several teeth. The woman described her constant pain as “deep, sharp, and heavy.” She rated the intensity as 7 out of 10 (10 worst), with the pain rising to 9 out of 10 with certain activities. The pain was progressively getting worse and was aggravated by movement, sleeping and straining. She was taking some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to try to get some relief.
A chiropractic examination noted that her head was in a forward position as well as being tilted to the left with shoulder height asymmetry. Her TMJ was tender to palpation. From these and other procedures, it was determined that subluxations were present.
Regular chiropractic adjustments were started on the patient. After several weeks, the study noted that adequate progress had not been made on her condition. Changes to her chiropractic care were made to attempt to improve the patient’s issues.
The changes in her care showed a positive result as several days later the woman returned and reported that she had eaten almonds for the past three days without having any pain. From that point forward, the woman was able to eat normally with only occasional discomfort. With continued chiropractic care, the woman continued to improve until she could report that her TMJ pain was reduced to mostly a 0 out of 10, only occasionally rising to 2 out of 10.