misalignment

Caring for TMJ Disorders Naturally

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Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is one of the more complicated joints of the body.  Located on either side of the face just in front of each ear, the TMJ connects the lower part of your jaw (the mandible) to the rest of the head.  It is designed to act as a hinge to open and close the mouth, and also to glide from side to side.
Disorders of the TMJ are fairly common.  Jaw pain and dysfunction can occur after an accident or injury or can arise over time if the jaw is not in proper alignment.  Temporomandibular joint disorders affect twice as many women as men, especially during childbearing years.  It is the most common non-dental related cause of chronic facial pain.

How Do I Know if I Have a TMJ Problem?

There are a variety of signs and symptoms of a TMJ problem.  These symptoms may arise with any jaw movement – opening, closing, or moving the jaw from side to side:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Earaches or ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Pain when biting, chewing, talking or yawning
  • Tenderness of the muscles of the jaw on the sides of the face

What Are My Care Options?

There are many options available to try and minimize TMJ pain and discomfort.  Oftentimes, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories are recommended to help reduce the pain.  Sometimes muscle relaxants are recommended to address unequal muscle tension on the sides of the face and jaw that are contributing to the dysfunction.  Another common solution is mouth guards, usually worn at night to try and reduce teeth grinding and associated pain.

While most people think to visit either their medical doctor or dentist, there is another option available that is providing lasting relief to TMJD sufferers.  Upper cervical chiropractic addresses very specific misalignments of the uppermost vertebra of the spine, the atlas.  A misalignment of the atlas can affect the TMJ in several ways – it can cause unequal muscle tension in the face affecting the resting position of the jaw, and it can also interrupt nerve signals that tell the jaw how to move and function.  Frequently, all that is needed are gentle adjustments to realign the atlas and time for any damaged soft tissue to heal.

Finding Natural Migraine Relief Has to Start with the Brain Stem

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Most people who suffer from migraines have their first one in their teens or early 20s. 9 out of 10 experience the first attack before age 40. In some cases, women who experience migraines may see a connection between this condition and their menstruation cycle. About half of female migraine patients find this to be true. Therefore, one may conclude that hormones can be connected to the onset of migraines in some patients.

How Changing Hormone Levels Increase Migraines

Interestingly, nearly half of female responders who have migraines stated that their condition worsened when they went through menopause and afterward. Once again, there may be a link to a change in hormone levels. Women report that both severity and frequency of attacks increased during this time. 

Something else to consider, however, is that the brain stem has been seen to play a part in migraines. This is important because the brain stem has the important job of controlling breathing, digestion, and regulating hormones, among other things. Therefore, if the brain stem has stopped working at its optimum, migraines may be the end result. What causes a problem with the brain stem?

Finding Help for Migraines

A study compiled the results for 101 headache and migraine patients who received upper cervical chiropractic care. They reported seeing improvement in as little as one or two adjustments. Yes, all of them saw a decrease in the amount and severity of headaches or migraines. Some even saw the problem completely resolved. 

The issue here has to do with the C1 and C2 vertebrae. If they are misaligned, they can be putting undue pressure on the brain stem, causing it no longer to work properly. Communication between the brain and body breaks down, culminating in migraines and other health problems. 

Using a gentle technique to help the bones of the neck to move back into place naturally, allows the body to take over and repair any damage. Once normal function of the brain stem is restored, many have found that migraines are greatly helped. 

How the Upper Cervical Spine is Related to Lower Back Pain

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A large number of people have experienced lower back pain at one time or another. Gravity plays a role in this as it causes the lower back to carry the majority of a person’s weight. Therefore, it makes sense that one would experience some pain or discomfort after lifting a heavy object or sitting still for an extended period of time. However, when this pain becomes chronic, it is time to do something about it. 

In some cases, the pain continues from the lower back down the sciatic nerve into the buttocks and then on into one of the legs. This pain can become extreme, limiting a person’s ability to perform simple daily tasks such as dressing and taking a shower.

Where to Find Help for Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic care has been known for many years to be able to help with lower back pain. In our office, we take an alternative approach to this type of care. It may sound strange at first, but we focus on the top bone of the spine that lies in the upper neck. However, the link between the lower back and neck is very strong.

Due to the mobility of the upper neck and the shape of the atlas or C1 vertebra, this bone is susceptible to misalignment. This can be due to an injury or even daily repetitive actions. In turn, muscle spasms, posture changes, and pain can occur. If the muscles on one side of the body tighten up, this often leads to one hip becoming elevated causing the leg on that side to be shorter than the other side. This creates an imbalance in the spine that stresses the sciatic nerve and the lower back in general.

I consider the atlas bone to be the key to the health of the entire back. By readjusting this bone using a gentle, specific technique that is tailored to each individual person, I am able to help those suffering from pain to find lasting relief that really works.