Skip to content
Dr. Robbyn KeatingMay 15, 2023 4:35:40 PM16 min read

Can a Chiropractor Help with TMJ? Here's What You Need to Know

Persistent jaw pain and discomfort could be an indication of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ). Despite affecting numerous individuals, not everyone is aware if chiropractic care can be a suitable approach to alleviate TMJ symptoms. It's prudent to obtain an accurate diagnosis regardless of the chosen course of action. To explore your options further, read on to determine whether a chiropractor can assist with TMJ.

Chiropractic care primarily centers around the connection between musculoskeletal conditions and the spine. Manipulating the spine and realigning the vertebrae is the primary focus of chiropractic care, and it can alleviate various issues. But can it be used to help with TMJ?

The short answer is yes. Chiropractic techniques may help reduce TMJ discomfort and even improve joint function. Several studies have indicated that chiropractic care benefits those suffering from TMJ, as vertebral misalignments in the cervical area can cause or worsen TMJ symptoms. That said, anyone looking to pursue chiropractic care to alleviate TMJ-related discomfort should seek a practitioner who is experienced in this area, as most chiropractors specialize in different areas.

The benefits of chiropractic care for TMJ are numerous, and so is the process. Depending on each individual's case, a chiropractor may use a variety of different techniques, such as joint mobilization, manual traction,

Quick Response

Yes, chiropractors can provide treatments to help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ. Your chiropractor would likely have you follow an ergonomic therapy plan that combines stretching, strengthening exercises, and soft tissue massage for the best results.

Table of Contents

What is TMJ?

How Can a Chiropractor Help With TMJ?

Adjustments and Realignments

Posture Correction and Sleep Position

What Other Treatments Might Chiropractors Suggest?

Physical Therapies and Exercises

Lifestyle and Posture Adjustments

What to Expect During a Visit to a Chiropractor

Possible Side Effects and Risks

Conclusion: Can a Chiropractor Help With TMJ?

Frequently Asked Questions


What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a disorder that affects the large joint between the lower jaw and the skull's temporal bone. This joint, known as the temporomandibular joint, allows for side-to-side and up-and-down jaw movement. When the temporomandibular joint functions normally, it permits seamless movement of the lower jaw to allow for activities such as chewing and speaking.

TMJ dysfunction can result in numerous physical symptoms such as facial pain, jaw popping or clicking, headaches, hearing issues, neck aches, and dizziness. In addition to physical symptoms, TMJ can cause many emotional side effects like stress, anxiety, irritability, and depression. The causes of TMJ are varied and may include underlying chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, jaw trauma, or misalignment of teeth or joints.

When discussing treating TMJ dysfunction, there is debate on whether standard treatments involving medications or surgical interventions are enough to alleviate symptoms or if alternative therapies should be considered. While some doctors prefer to manage TMJ with therapeutic and exercise techniques such as muscle relaxants, ultrasound, or ultrasound stimulation, others feel that such treatments do not address all aspects of TMJ dysfunction and may only provide temporary relief. On the one hand, those in favor of a more conventional approach argue that medications are effective at relieving pain and other associated symptoms; on the other hand, proponents of alternative treatments claim such methods can provide long-term relief without relying on medication or surgery.

The following section will explore how a chiropractor can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with TMJ and discuss whether this type of treatment could be an appropriate option for individuals suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

How Can a Chiropractor Help With TMJ?

Chiropractic care has been used to help with various ailments, including Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. TMJ is used to describe the temporomandibular joints and muscles in the jaw. It can cause multiple symptoms, including pain, difficulty chewing, or headaches. While there is debate about using chiropractic care for TMJ treatment, some healthcare professionals believe that chiropractic treatments on the neck and spine can relieve many suffering from chronic TMJ disorders.

Proponents of chiropractic care argue that adjustments and realignments to the neck and spine can alleviate symptoms by releasing tension which may affect the nerve endings in the jaw and result in muscle spasms in the face and neck. Furthermore, many studies suggest that manual manipulation of the jaw is beneficial for treating several different TMJ symptoms. Some chiropractors may also recommend nutritional supplements or various exercises as part of an overall treatment program for those with TMJ disorders.

On the other hand, some professionals are not as confident in supporting chiropractic care as a cure-all to treating TMJ-related issues. They argue that joint manipulations and realignment can only temporarily relieve symptoms while ignoring any underlying causes contributing to repeated flare-ups. Moreover, they caution against pushing specific exercises or treatments that may not benefit all patients equally or when dealing with more severe TMJ disorders.

Overall, while opinions are divided regarding how effective chiropractic care can be for treating TMJ concerns, it remains an essential consideration for those who may have exhausted other routes, such as traditional medical treatments, without satisfying results. Adjustments and realignments comprise much of chiropractic care when dealing with TMJ-related issues. Let's dive further into this topic to understand some intricacies related to this form of therapeutic care.

Adjustments and Realignments

Adjustments and realignments are among the most common treatment methods chiropractors use to help treat TMJ. These treatments involve making subtle adjustments or realigning the temporomandibular joints to reduce pain and tension in the jaw. This type of treatment is believed to help improve the alignment of the jaw, allowing muscles and ligaments in the area to relax and promoting proper functioning of the joint. It can also relieve pain caused by grinding or clenching teeth due to misalignment of the joint.

Proponents of these treatments often argue that they can ease TMJ symptoms by relieving pressure on the joint and helping restore its natural position. Those who oppose such treatments claim that adjustments and realignments can be too aggressive, potentially leading to further injury or discomfort beyond what was initially felt before the treatment.

Many people find that adjustments and realignments relieve their TMJ symptoms when adequately administered by an experienced chiropractor. However, it is important to weigh both sides of the argument before opting for this kind of treatment, especially if there are concerns about potential side effects or risk of further injury to the joint.

Having an in-depth discussion with your chiropractor before beginning any treatment is essential to ensure that chiropractic care is right for you and your symptoms. With a thorough understanding of both pros and cons associated with adjustments and realignments, you can decide whether this type of therapy may be beneficial in managing your TMJ.

The following section will discuss how posture correction and sleep position can play a role in treating symptoms related to TMJ.

Posture Correction and Sleep Position

Posture correction and sleep position are significant in the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Many chiropractors believe that neck and shoulder problems can stress the jaw joints and muscles, which can lead to increased pain. Poor posture while sitting or sleeping can be a contributing factor in the progression of TMJ. Corrective measures may include muscle stretching, massage therapy, and specific chiropractic adjustment techniques, including adjusting the spine and neck or manipulating soft tissues.

Regarding sleep position, some experts recommend sleeping in an upright position or on your back with support under your head and neck to relieve pressure on the jawbone; sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended. While many sufferers of TMJ report finding relief from these corrective measures, some experts debate the effectiveness of postural adjustments for managing symptoms. The American Physical Therapy Association recommends continuing physical therapy if it has been beneficial and making lifestyle changes such as avoiding chewing gum, eating softer foods, reducing teeth grinding, and using pillows for extra head and neck support at night.

While there is much debate about the effectiveness of posture correction for managing TMJ pain, there is evidence that suggests taking action when it comes to correcting posture can be effective over time. Beyond this topic, what other treatments might chiropractors recommend?

What Other Treatments Might Chiropractors Suggest?

Chiropractors may suggest a range of other treatments for TMJ in addition to manual adjustments. Some chiropractors believe that the jaw joints and muscles should be treated with the spinal joints, while others might focus solely on the jaw and soft tissues. Depending on the individual case, chiropractic treatment may include modalities such as electrical muscle stimulation, myofascial release, laser therapy, ultrasound, and cold laser therapy. These treatments can help to reduce pain and muscle tension, improve joint mobility and decrease inflammation.

Sometimes, chiropractors might recommend taping or splints to stabilize the jaw. These customizable devices can help limit the jaw movement during certain activities, thereby reducing strain on the joint. While their effectiveness is controversial, there is some evidence that these treatments can provide relief from symptoms such as clicking and popping sounds when opening the mouth wide. Proponents of taping or splinting argue that it can reduce bruxism (grinding teeth) at night, which can contribute to TMJ disorder.

On the other hand, many oppose these treatments, citing that they are invasive and need continuous use for them to be effective. Further research is required to determine whether these treatments are beneficial in the long run.

Whatever treatment option your chiropractor suggests, you should discuss its possible risks and benefits before proceeding with any treatment plan. The following section will discuss physical therapies and exercises used by chiropractors successfully in treating TMJ disorder.

Physical Therapies and Exercises

Many people seeking treatment for TMJ disorder have often found physical therapies and exercises incredibly helpful. One of the most common physical therapies is massage. A chiropractor can use various massage techniques to apply gentle pressure to your jaw joints to lower inflammation and tension in these areas. This therapy helps relax your facial muscles, allowing you to relieve TMJ symptoms. Soft tissue mobilization is another therapy that can be used to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorder. It involves the isolated application of pressure to targeted areas around the temporomandibular joints.

Exercises that focus on stretching, strengthening, and improving range of motion are known to improve your chances of successful treatment. Such activities may include clenching and releasing movements, mouth opening and closing movements against resistance, side-to-side jaw exercises, and chewing gum. Regularly completing these exercises can have a significant impact on relieving or reducing your discomfort.

It is important to note that while physical therapies and exercise are widely seen as having positive effects on people suffering from TMJ disorder, they may not work for everyone since each case it is different. That said, many patients have reported improved signs and symptoms after undergoing this type of treatment.

Lifestyle and posture adjustments are essential aspects of managing and treating TMD. The following section will explore how changes in habits, such as stress management and posture, can significantly relieve TMJ pain and other associated issues.

Lifestyle and Posture Adjustments

TMJ can result from poor posture and lifestyle factors, so adjusting your habits can help relieve tension in the jaw. Here are some helpful lifestyle and posture adjustments:

  • Avoiding teeth grinding or clenching: Research suggests that up to 95% of TMJ disorders are related to teeth grinding or clenching. Avoiding these habits may lessen stress on the joint.
  • Taking breaks from repetitive motions: Doing regular activities such as typing may strain your jaw if you do them for extended periods at a time. Taking frequent breaks, stretching, and changing positions can be beneficial.
  • Practising proper posture: Sitting and standing with good posture takes the pressure off your jaw joints. Consider adding a lumbar support pillow to your chair when sitting or a footrest to help reduce lower back stress.
  • Eating softer foods: Choose soft foods that require little effort to chew, like mashed potatoes, noodles, and porridge. Reduce your intake of chewy and hard foods such as steak or bagels that require more effort to bite, as they may worsen TMJ symptoms.
  • Reducing stress: Practices like yoga, mindfulness, and guided relaxation can help ease muscle tension around the jaw area, which is a common trigger of TMJ pain.

Ultimately, lifestyle adjustments may contribute to finding relief from TMJ symptoms. However, it's important to remember that everyone's experiences with the condition will differ – and consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended for best results.

Next, look at what you can expect during a visit to a chiropractor for relief from TMJ disorder.

What to Expect During a Visit to a Chiropractor

Visiting a chiropractor for TMJ treatment can effectively reduce pain and restore normal jaw function. But before you go, it's essential to understand what to expect during your visit.

During a typical visit, the chiropractor will take a detailed medical history, do a physical evaluation, and perform some tests such as palpation and range of motion testing. The chiropractor may also take X-rays or other imaging tests to get a clearer picture of the alignment of your jaw joints. This makes it easier for the chiropractor to determine where treatment should be focused.

After the initial exam, the chiropractor will discuss the treatment plan with you and may begin manipulating your temporomandibular joint or using manual therapy such as trigger point therapy, spinal manipulation, stretching, and soft tissue massage. Depending on the severity of your problem, you may need multiple visits to get maximum benefits from the treatment.

During the treatment process, you may experience some mild discomfort. This is entirely normal and shouldn't last long. Most people who receive TMJ treatment find that they gain tremendous relief almost immediately after their session.

It's important to note that not everyone responds positively to TMJ treatment by a chiropractor – some people may find that their symptoms worsen after the first few sessions. That's why it's important to discuss any concerns with your chiropractor before beginning treatment.

Finally, following up with regular visits to maintain results is essential with TMJ treatment. Depending on your specific needs and health goals, your chiropractor can help you decide how often you should come back for additional sessions.

So now that we've covered what to expect during a visit to a chiropractor for TMJ treatment let's turn our attention to possible side effects and risks associated with this type of care.

Possible Side Effects and Risks

When considering whether to see a chiropractor for TMJ, weighing the possible benefits against the risks is essential. Chiropractic care has proven to be an effective treatment for TMJ. However, there is no definitive proof that it is safe without any side effects or risks. There have been reports of patients who have experienced pain relief after receiving chiropractic care. Still, there are reports of patients who have experienced worsened or even new symptoms following chiropractic care.

Most side effects and risks associated with chiropractic care tend to be minor, such as soreness, stiffness, bruising, or slight swelling in the adjusted area. More severe complications can occur, but they are rare. They include damage to nerves or blood vessels, joint dislocations, and bone fractures. There are rarely long-term adverse effects from chiropractic care. Still, if you experience any pain or discomfort afterward that persists for more than 24 hours, you should speak to your doctor immediately.

Not everyone believes that seeing a chiropractor for TMJ is a good idea. Some argue that chiropractic care may not help alleviate TMJ symptoms; instead, it could cause more harm than good. According to opponents of this treatment, excessive manipulation of joints in the jaw could lead to further injury or damage due to its delicate nature. They argue that more research needs to be done before people consider visiting a chiropractor for TMJ treatment.

With all this in mind, it's essential to research the potential risks and benefits associated with visiting a chiropractor for TMJ before making any decision. Talk to your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns before proceeding with treatment.

Moving on, we will discuss the conclusion: Can a Chiropractor Help With TMJ?

Conclusion: Can a Chiropractor Help With TMJ?

When it comes to treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, many healthcare professionals have voiced different opinions about the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for this condition. Some medical professionals believe that chiropractic care may be beneficial in alleviating some of the symptoms of TMJ, such as headaches, jaw pain, and limited range of motion, while others take an opposing stance.

Chiropractic care can be beneficial in relieving muscle tension and increasing range of motion, both of which help treat TMJ-related symptoms. It can also provide an alternative to treatment options, often involving pain medication and invasive surgery. However, some argue that chiropractic treatments such as manual adjustments may do more harm than good by potentially causing further damage to already fragile tissue around the jaw. As with any medical procedure-related decisions, visitors should discuss potential benefits and risks with their healthcare provider before embarking on any course of treatment.

In summary, while medical practitioners have no clear consensus about the efficacy of using chiropractic treatment for TMJ disorders, many patients have reported symptom relief following chiropractic sessions. Ultimately though, when it comes to utilizing this type of therapy, it is vital to consider the risk versus reward associated with any proposed course of treatment before making any decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What treatments does a chiropractor offer for TMJ? A chiropractor typically offers a variety of treatments for TMJ, including spinal manipulation and joint mobilization, which aim to reduce pain. Chiropractors may also focus on soft tissue mobilization to help reduce stiffness and tension in the jaw muscles and joints. Additionally, exercise recommendations may be made to strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles and other lifestyle advice to reduce strain on the area. Most importantly, manual treatments targeting the jaw joint and surrounding neck muscles can help restore proper function and balance. This can significantly improve symptoms such as pain, muscle tightness, clicking noises, and limited jaw range of motion caused by TMJ disorder.
What types of relief can a chiropractor provide for TMJ-related pain? Chiropractors can provide a range of treatments for TMJ-induced pain. These treatments focus on identifying the issue's source and then working to correct it. This usually involves manual manipulation and adjustment of the jaw, neck, spine, and head, as well as soft tissue treatments such as massage and stretching. A chiropractor may also provide lifestyle recommendations such as changing posture, modifying activity levels, and avoiding certain motions that could worsen the condition. In addition, they may suggest exercises or stretches to help improve the joint range of motion and strengthen the muscles. All these treatment components can reduce tension, improve joint function and help reduce TMJ-related pain and discomfort.
Are there any risks associated with chiropractic treatment for TMJ?


Yes, there are some potential risks associated with chiropractic treatment for TMJ. Some of those include the risk of nerve or muscle damage or even vertebral misalignment due to the excessive force applied during physical manipulation. There is also the potential for aggravating any existing TMJ condition due to the over-stimulation of already sensitive nerve endings. It's vital to ensure that your chiropractor is knowledgeable and well-versed in issues involving TMJ and adhering to their own safety protocols when working with patients experiencing jaw pain. Finally, it's essential to discuss any past medical or dental history with your chiropractor at length before beginning treatment so that any necessary precautions can be taken.


Dr. Robbyn Keating

Dr. Keating joined the team at Arrowhead Clinic in 2016 to continue furthering her career as a chiropractic physician. She provides manual and hands-on chiropractic spinal manipulations along with therapy techniques to help restore function and mobility in the body. She specializes in treating a variety of accident injuries along with chronic neck and back pain. Dr. Keating moved to St. Louis, Missouri, from Alberta, Canada, in 2005 to earn her Bachelors of Science degree at Lindenwood University while on an ice hockey scholarship. While in college, she excelled in ice hockey and track and field events. Upon graduation from Lindenwood University, Dr. Keating furthered her education by pursuing her Doctorate of Chiropractic at Logan College of Chiropractic. She completed her doctorate studies in 2014 and then secured a highly sought-after position at a multidisciplinary wellness facility in the St. Louis metro area. It was there she trained under a well-respected chiropractor, who helped her hone her skills and techniques in a high-volume clinic. Since moving to Georgia in 2015, in addition to running the McDonough office for Arrowhead Clinic, Dr. Keating continues her long-standing passion for playing rugby with the Atlanta Harlequins Women's Rugby team. She participates in several local ice hockey leagues and is now working on mastering her cast in fly fishing. One of Dr. Keating’s accident patients stated, “Best clinic ever. Kendall, Hannah, Chloe, and Dr. Keating are the best. They have been so helpful during my accident, I have never been through anything like this, and they are making the process so easy and understandable. Recommend this place to anyone!” Dr. Keating offers potential patients same-day, free consultations. She is available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.