TMJ Pain – A Review of Causes

TMJ.  A very misunderstood set of letters.  TMJ is not a condition, but rather the name of a body part; a joint to be exact.  T= temporal (as in the temporal bone of the skull); M= mandible, the jaw bone; J= joint.  Everyone has “TMJ”, much like having an elbow or knee.  Having TMJ pain is the real problem.

TMJ pain/dysfunction can be very difficult and frustrating.  After all, we use our mouths a lot during a day!

The TMJ is a very complex joint and is influenced by many different structures in the body.  In fact, the TMJ involves about 30-40% of the sensory motor neurons in the body.  Think about how small this area is compared to the rest of the body.  For it to have 30-40% of the sensory motor neurons, it must be quite important.

Practically anything can cause problems in the TMJ, and the reverse is true also.  Many TMJ imbalances can cause practically any other problem.  One of the most common causes of TMJ problems is the cranium.  All 22 bones of the skull have an inherent, specific motion they must go through.  It is this motion that pumps fluid around the brain and up and down the spinal cord.  Because the spinal cord is connected to the sacrum (middle bone of the pelvis) and the base of the skull, the base of the skull and the sacrum have a relationship.  If any bone of the skull gets jammed (falls, whiplash injuries, dental procedures, birth trauma, etc.) the sacrum loses its proper motion, which can lead to back pain.  And, if the sacrum becomes jammed, it has an effect on the skull, which creates problems in the TMJ.  Amazing isn’t it?

If we travel further out, we can see how the feet can affect the TMJ.  The feet have almost 1/4th the number of bones in the entire body.  Any strain to the feet will eventually produce strain on the sacrum (pelvis), which can lead to TMJ problems.

Chemically, the TMJ has been called the endocrine computer.  This means that it has been observed to respond to changes in the endocrine system (all the glands of the body).  For example, if the thyroid gland is not in balance, the TMJ can often become abnormal.  We have seen a few patients who by just touching over the gland in question, produce a big change in how their jaw moves.  They can suddenly open their jaw wider, and move it around with no clicking or popping.  Now that is amazing.

And finally, we have emotional problems.  This is quite common.  Stuffed emotions, especially about not expressing yourself and your opinions, can often end up in the jaw and throat area.  This is usually corrected quite easily by finding the right strategy to help the patient release the trauma.  Rarely does somebody need psychotherapy, although this is an option.

So, with all of these connections, what should one do?  A holistic practitioner who integrates treatment of structure, chemistry, energy and emotions will have the best shot at uncovering “TMJ”.  Practitioners who are trained in Applied Kinesiology (AK) will be your best bet.  And more specifically, if they have training in an advanced form of AK, called XK.