How Chiropractic Temporormandibular Joint (TMJ) Adjustment and Low Level Laser Therapy Are Effective Treatments for the Pain and Discomfort of TMJ/TMD

How Chiropractic Temporormandibular Joint (TMJ) Adjustment and Low Level Laser Therapy Are Effective Treatments for the Pain and Discomfort of TMJ/TMD

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that as many as 10 million people have temporomandibular joint disorders. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD, TMJD) is the umbrella term used to describe the pain, discomfort and dysfunction of the masticating muscles (the muscles that move the jaw) and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible [jaw] to the skull). Symptoms of TMD present as:

  • pain in the jaw joint or masticating muscles

  • restricted mandibular (jaw) movement

  • aberrant movement on opening or closing the jaw joint

  • clicking, popping or grating noises from the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) while the jaw is moving

Symptoms of TMD can become chronic and challenging to manage and can erode one’s overall sense of well-being. The dysfunction may be caused by head or neck injury, skeletal malformations, lack of proper nutrition, psychosocial factors, and disturbed sleep involving jaw clenching, and the involuntary or habitual grinding of teeth.

Chiropractors are able to not only help with TMJ but offer exceptional relief of TMJ by first alleviating tension and dysfunction in the spine. Once the spine is corrected, pressure on certain nerves is released which can, in turn, alleviate TMJ pain. Dr. Wagner also has training on adjusting the TMJ joint itself with instrument adjusting and has specific rehab exercises assigned to each patient based on joint dysfunction.

Low level laser therapy (LLLT)(2) can also be very effective in treating TMD. The basic effects of LLLT are bio-stimulative, regenerative, analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It is advantageous to use LLLT in the treatment of TMDs because it is non-invasive, cost effective and has no known side-effects.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) treatment for pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) was investigated in a controlled study comparing applied energy density, subgroups of TMD, and duration of disorders… The results suggest that LLLT (application of 10 J/cm(2) and 15 J/cm(2)) can be considered as a useful method for the treatment of TMD-related pain, especially long lasting pain.
— H. Fikácková, Effectiveness of low-level laser therapy in temporomandibular joint disorders: a placebo-controlled study

In the scientifically documented study, Effectiveness of low-level laser therapy in temporomandibular joint disorders: a placebo-controlled study, the researchers come to the following conclusion:

This study supports the use of LLLT as an alternative to other conventional treatment modalities in TMDs by producing positive outcomes. The subjects were comfortable with the treatment and satisfied by the outcome and had a better lifestyle following treatment. There was a rapid decrease in the pain intensity; the number of tender points and joint sounds. The active range of motion was also increased in all the patients. During the follow-up period there was no relapse of the disease except in two cases which we believe is due to the complexity of the disorder and in such cases there is a demand for a more complex treatment.

Thus, it can be suggested as an efficient treatment method, with the dose level tested, as a primary modality in early and less complex conditions and as an adjunctive procedure in more advanced and complex disease conditions.

We use instrument adjusting of the jaw and low level laser therapy to successfully treat our patients at Wagner Chiropractic. After the adjustment of spine and jaw, we are able to offer a dramatic range of motion increase to and decrease of pain in the affected/injured areas and have realized excellent success in the treatment of TMD.

  1. either of a pair of bones that form part of the side of the skull on each side and enclose the middle and inner ear

  2. sometimes also referred to as low level light therapy or photobiomodulation (PBM)–a low intensity light therapy

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Endnotes:

Fikácková, H, et al. “Effectiveness of Low-Level Laser Therapy in Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: a Placebo-Controlled Study.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Aug. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17803388.

Pavia D. C., Steven, et al. “Chiropractic Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction: A Retrospective Case Series.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, U. S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Dec. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688559.