About a month ago, I (Ceci) attended a TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) seminar, or your jaw joint. TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorders, is a classification of problems relating to this joint. Disorders that fall under this category include lock jaw (either in open- or closed-position), clicking or cracking of the TMJ, and clenching the jaw/grinding one’s teeth. Neck problems, dizziness, headaches, and even upper back problems can arise from having problems with this tiny joint. It is a very underestimated, and often overlooked, part of our body.
The temporomandibular joint fascinates me because I have suffered from TMD myself for the past 10 years. Upon speaking to the instructor, a chiropractor from the United States who specialises in these disorders, I was labelled what he calls a “clencher” or someone who clenches their teeth during the day or night. Apparently, clenchers do this frequently, chronically, and without even knowing we do it. You might even be a clencher and don’t realise it. Think about the times when you’re stuck in traffic, or when you’re really concentrating and focused on your work. How many times do you clench your jaw in that period of time? It actually happens at a subconscious level more often than we realise. The small muscles of the jaw can become overworked and develop painful trigger points, similar to a repetitive stress injury like Tennis Elbow. The small disc inside the joint can also start to dysfunction and slide out of place, causing clicking, locking, and pain.
There are very few seminars covering TMD, and even though there are very few treatment options out there, chiropractic therapy can help. As TMD becomes more common with our modern day stress levels, and more and more people suffer from this disorder than we realise, there are solutions. A thorough chiropractic examination and diagnosis as to which type of problem it is, followed by chiropractic treatment and a supportive exercise regimen, can help. Yes, even for this delicate area there are some great treatment options and exercises to help get rid of your pain, clicking, or locking. I am confident that one day my click will be improved, but it will take awareness and effort on my part, just like any other therapy regimen. If you, or anyone you know, suffers from TMD, please send them my way. I would be more than happy to identify and help my fellow clenchers!