TMJ and Dizziness

TMJ and Dizziness

Dizziness, clinically called vertigo, is a feeling of being off-balance as the world around you seems to spin. When your jaw is poorly aligned and inflamed, it can put pressure on your inner ear, disrupting the organs that help you balance.

Your inner ear’s vestibular system is located in your temporal bone, where your jawbone attaches to your skull. Pressure from a poorly aligned jaw can throw your vestibular system off, confounding the signals sent to your brain about your body’s position in space and leading to feelings of vertigo.

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TMJ Syndrome and Health

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located directly beneath your eustachian tube, or ear canal, and connects your jawbone to your skull. It is a sliding hinge joint that allows you to talk and chew. Because of its proximity to the ear canal, pain that originates in the TMJ is often mistaken for ear pain.

Problems with the TMJ have been linked to several seemingly unrelated conditions, including:

  • back pain
  • shoulder pain
  • neck pain
  • migraine and general headaches
  • problems swallowing
  • facial pain
  • jaw pain
  • popping sounds in the jaw
  • tinnitus
  • congestion in the ears
  • hearing loss and disorders
  • pain when chewing
  • pain behind the eyes
  • lightheadedness and dizziness
TMJ Syndrome and Health

TMJ syndrome may arise due to postural issues in the upper body that cause the joint to misalign. Texting and computer use may be primary contributors. The condition may also be caused by stress that makes you grind or clench your teeth at night.

TMJ Ear and Jaw Pain with Dizziness

TMJ syndrome is often associated with pain and dizziness due to a heightened vestibular response to jaw inflammation. A Korean study (Chung et al. 2012) was conducted on rats whose jaws were injected with an inflammatory agent. The experimental group subsequently displayed heightened vestibular nuclei activity, compared to controls that were injected with a neutral substance.

Another study (de Toledo et al. 2017) found that 40.8 percent of TMJ patients experienced vertigo associated with the syndrome, and 55.1% experienced otalgia (ear pain). While vestibular issues are not always caused by TMJ syndrome, it should not be ruled out as a potential cause of chronic dizziness.

Treatment of TMJ-Related Dizziness

Dizziness associated with TMJ syndrome can be effectively treated with chiropractic care and physical therapy. The first step is accurate diagnosis, to ensure that other issues are not affecting the vestibular system.

Conventional medical treatments for TMJ syndrome include bite devices, Botox injections, orthodontic care and surgery. However, there is little scientific evidence that any of those approaches are effective, and most are costly.

Effective conservative treatment options for TMJ syndrome include:

  • Specialized physical therapy
  • Ultrasound guided dry needling
  • TMJ mobilization techniques
  • Myofascial relaxation techniques
  • Cranial osteopathy
  • Craniosacral therapy
  • Cervical stabilization
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Surface electromyography (SEMG) feedback retraining for chewing and neck muscles

Once the TMJ is restored to proper function, dizziness symptoms should subside. If you still experience vertigo, your dizziness may have another underlying cause.

TMJ Treatment in NYC

If you are experiencing ear and jaw pain with dizziness, you may have TMJ syndrome. The clinical director at NYDNRehab, Dr. Kalika, is a world-renowned chiropractor with extensive experience treating TMJ patients. Chiropractic care combined with physical therapy can resolve the root causes of TMJ syndrome and eliminate headaches and dizziness.

Our state-of-the-art clinic features:

  • High resolution diagnostic ultrasound
  • SEMG
  • Physical therapy exercises
  • Advanced real-time feedback training
  • Ultrasound guided dry needling
  • Innovative treatment approaches for TMJ

NYDNRehab now offers TeleHealth services to patients who prefer remote treatment. Contact us today, and let our team of TMJ experts resolve your pain and discomfort, so you can get back to your active pain-free life.

Resources

Chung, Sung-Won, et al. “Inflammation of temporomandibular joint increases neural activity in rat vestibular nucleus.” Neuroscience Letters 528.2 (2012): 126-130.

De Toledo, Isabela Porto, et al. “Prevalence of otologic signs and symptoms in adult patients with temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Clinical oral investigations 21.2 (2017): 597-605.

About the Author

Dr. Lev Kalika is clinical director of NYDNRehab, located in Manhattan. Lev Kalika is the author of multiple medical publications and research, and an international expert in the field of rehabilitative sonography, ultrasound guided dry needling and sports medicine Dr. Kalika works with athletes, runners, dancers and mainstream clients to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries. His clinic features some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world, rarely found in a private clinic.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

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Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

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Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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