TMJ Sufferers May Benefit from Upper Cervical Care

“TMJ” or temporomandibular joint, refers to the connecting hinge between the lower jaw (mandible) and skull (temporal bone). TMJ disorders can be quite painful, making it difficult to eat, swallow, and yawn. Problems here can also contribute to headaches and neck pain.

The image above depicts the location of this joint. Notice how close the first cervical bone (C1), or atlas, is to the TMJ. Because of this proximity, misalignment of C1 can actually be responsible for TMJ pain.

The delicate relationship between the head and neck changes when atlas loses its normal position. A structural imbalance here restricts joint motion and will apply abnormal amounts of pressure to muscles and ligaments. In some cases, this can impair normal TMJ function.

If your jaw “clicks,” this is an indicator that structural misalignment could be present. (Here’s a list of other warning signs that suggest you might be in need of Upper Cervical Care.)

Patients with TMJ problems have a variety of dental options for treatment. While all can be effective, they’re not exactly cheap! Over the years, I’ve cared for patients who attempted these alternatives with/without success prior to finding their way to my St. Louis chiropractic office. Others were simply exploring their options, and looking for affordable solutions.

In early October, a patient came to see me who’d been given a $4,000 estimate for specialized TMJ treatment. While I’m sure that method has had great success with cases of TMJ, the patient couldn’t help but wonder, what if it didn’t work? That’s a steep price to pay for something without much certainty.

I told her that with most cases of TMJ, we’ll be able to know if Upper Cervical Care is a viable solution within 1-3 visits. It just so happened that hers was a case that benefited from our care. After one adjustment she informed me that her TMJ pain had subsided by 50%. Another TMJ sufferer (who came in last month for an unrelated issue) mentioned to me that after receiving his first adjustment, the TMJ pain he’d suffered with over the years had decreased by 70%!

Admittedly, Upper Cervical Care won’t be the solution for every case of TMJ disorder. There have been patients with more complicated TMJ dysfunction who didn’t respond quite as well. But what I like about this approach is that it’s safe, non-invasive, and affordable. TMJ happens to be a condition that will respond very quickly if chiropractic care is the right choice… It won’t be weeks or months of painful waiting to find out.

If you’ve been struggling with TMJ, and you’re fortunate enough to have an Upper Cervical chiropractor close by, I recommend giving them a call. If you’d like some assistance locating a specialist in your area, I invite you to email me, and I’ll point you in the right direction.

For more information on TMJ disorder, click here: Sick & Tired of TMJ?


Great post, Dr. Tanase! Few people realize that Chiropractic Care can help with TMJ. Even though scientific studies have shown that chiropractic is helpful in cases of TMJ.

In a 2003 study, 15 participants were administered treatments. All participants showed improvements in the distance they could open their jaws and in pain measurements. Although this group was not compared to a group receiving traditional treatment, it shows that chiropractic treatments show promise as an emerging treatment for TMJ joint disorder.

Many report relief and satisfaction with chiropractic care for TMJ joint disorder. In a survey of 192 members of a health maintenance organization published in 2003, nearly two-thirds reported using some form of complementary medicine to treat TMJ. Almost everyone surveyed used complementary approaches together with other traditional treatments, and the greatest satisfaction was reported for the hands-on alternative therapies, including chiropractic.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2003 Sep; 26(7):421-5.
Journal of Orofacial Pain 2003 summer; 17(3):224-36.

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[…] how does this happen? Is chiropractic care a “cure” for TMJ, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, or psoriasis? No. It’s also not a cure for back/neck pain, […]

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