Chiropractic Eases TMJ Pain, Study Suggests

A new case series suggests that chiropractic can improve symptoms in patients with jaw symptoms due to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint is the joint in the jaw that allows you to open and close your mouth with ease. Between 10-40% of people experience TMD symptoms at some point in their life, but the disorder is more common in patients with auto injuries, whiplash, headache, vertigo, and fibromyalgia.

In a new case series from Spain, researchers treated 15 patients with TMD using a multimodal treatment approach. Patients received a combination of therapies commonly used by chiropractors like thoracic spine manipulation, mobilization with movement applied to the cervical spine and temporomandibular joint, and trigger point dry needling. After two weeks of treatment, the patients had significantly decreased pain scores, reduced disability, and better jaw range of motion as measured by maximal mouth opening. These improvements lasted for the two-month follow-up.

The findings add to previous research on manual therapies and TMD. In recent study of patients suffering from both TMD and cervicogenic headache, patients had better neck range of motion and decreased headache symptoms after receiving manual therapies like those practiced by a chiropractor.

Manipulative and manual therapies can also enhance the benefits of exercise therapies and other treatments, suggests a new literature review from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. "Working with DCs [Doctors of Chiropractic] offers an additional choice for dental professionals and patients," the review authors pointed out.


Brantingham, JW et al. Manipulative and multimodal therapy for upper extermity and temporomandibular disorders: a system literature review. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013; doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.04.001.

González-Iglesias J, et al. Mobilization with movement, thoracic spine manipulation, and dry needling for the management of temporomandibular disorder: A prospective case series. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 2013; [E-pub ahead of print].

Von Piekartz H, Hall, T. Orofacial manual therapy improves cervical movement impairment associated with headache and features of temporomandibular dysfunction: A randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy 10 (1016).