Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), sometimes referred to as myofacial pain dysfunction or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, is a condition involving pain in the muscles of the jaw used for chewing (masticatory muscles) and/or the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull.
There are limitations in the use of the jaw and joint sounds (clicking, popping or grating noises) when the jaw is used. However, many people normally have such joint sounds in the absence of pain. Pain can spread to the muscles of the shoulders and neck. More rarely, TMD can cause disturbances of vision and balance.
These symptoms are created from the overall position of the bones of the head. Why would TMD occur? The main reason is the position of the temporomandibular joints. When the temporal bones are not positioned symmetrically, the mandible has difficulty making smooth contact with the skull. The temporomandibular joints are stressed separately and uniquely. When the jaw joint binds, there are joint sounds and often, but not always, pain. The cranial balancing pattern, obviously asymmetrical with the TMD, requires a painful position of the neck bones and musculature to maintain stability. This results in headaches, neck and shoulder pain, jaw pain and even problems with vision. The lop-sided, uneven positions of the temporal bones can lead to balance problems.
I have seen repeated, great results using NCR to treat TMD. The correction for TMD must address the problems of the entire skull, not just the local symptoms. When NCR treatment has progressed and the pain decreases from improved function of the entire head, the patterns of chewing are different. Usually it will be better, but sometimes it can seem worse, especially with bridges, crowns and fillings that are shaped for the mouth of a crooked head. When poor occlusion occurs, it is important to see a dentist for fine-tuning of the shape of the biting surfaces of the teeth. Continued chewing with a poor bite can traumatize the skull and move the bones of the skeleton into a different, undesirable pattern of stabilization. Rarely, dental orthopedics or even orthodontia will be required.
Generally, other treatments are secondary. The use of acupuncture, massage, stress management and nutrition are powerful only as adjuncts to NCR, the fundamental treatment approach for TMD.
(See vertigo and balance problems. See headache, head pressure, and migraine. See sinusitis.)