TMJ (temporomandibular joint)

TMD (temporomandibular disorders)  jaw joint disorders

What are TMJ and TMD?  

TMJ simply refers to the jaw joint only, located just in the front of each ear.  It can easily be identified by placing your finger at this point and opening and closing your mouth. You can feel the joint movement as you do this. TMD refers to the various disorders, syndromes or symptoms related to the joint itself. These disorders are often the consequence, either directly or indirectly, of the dysfunction of the joint. It may affect the muscles of, and surrounding, the joints both on your face and inside your mouth. There may be secondary and tertiary effects on the tendons, ligaments, nerves and arteries as well, resulting in a variety of disorders, sometimes seemingly unrelated. The joints may be malfunctioning of their own accord or due to congenital issues. However, the dysfunction may also be a result of trauma, falls, blows or impacts to the head, neck or face. This may be especially true in the instance of rear end car accidents as a secondary effect of whiplash syndrome. This has been adequately documented for years with the work of the Spine Research Institute of San Diego and Dr. Arthur Croft, an international authority on whiplash auto accidents (Whiplash Injuries: the cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007).


There are usually three major symptoms:


  1. pain in either the muscles or within the joint
  2. sounds such as popping, clicking or creaking                                                                           when the jaw is moved 
  3. incorrect or reduced jaw movement, such as                                                                                 the jaw locking in an open or closed position,                                                                                 or difficulty opening or closing the jaw


These may often be accompanied by grinding the teeth, especially at night, known as bruxism, which may also result in sleep fatigue. Also seen in TMD are biting the cheeks, lips or tongue.

Directly related symptoms other than TMJ pain may be headaches, neck, shoulder and facial pain, accompanied by chronic muscle spasms. Other symptoms which have been found to have a significant TMJ component are other types of headaches such as migraine and cluster, whiplash disorders, facial palsies (Bell’s) and trigeminal neuralgia.

Dr. Schaeffer has been providing successful clinical treatment for TMD for the past 15 years, and first began with professional musicians. During this time he developed examination and treatment protocols within the Activator Method Chiropractic Technique system of analysis.  This has ultimately led to his first research pilot study, published in 2003, with ultimate inclusion in the Activator Method curriculum internationally and the recent textbook, the largest selling chiropractic text in the profession. His prior study as well as his recently completed NIH study is with the University of Iowa Dental programs. 

Dr. Schaeffer's Research Activities

  • TMJ/TMD pilot study with the Dept. of Dentistry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 2002. Developed the treatment protocols and examination methodology and assisted with the study design and evaluation. Primary Clinician and co-investigator.
  • Instructor, TMJ/TMD Syndromes, Activator Methods Treatment Protocols, AMCT International Instructor’s Conference, July 2003, Phoenix. Authored and developed the course content. Course subsequently adopted for the Activator Methods International academic curriculum of 2003-04.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant through the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) for Clinical and Translational Science in Chiropractic. Study of the  “Conservative treatment of patients with temporomandibular disorders---a pilot study”; co-investigator. Funded at $400K through Palmer College of Chiropractic with the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.


Publications

Activator Methods Chiropractic

Techniques are practiced here.

TMJ/TMD

Awards and Honors

  • Platform presentation of TMJ/TMD Pilot Study, Research Agenda Conference, March 2003, New Orleans
  • Clinical Instructor, TMJ/TMD Syndromes, Activator Methods Treatment Protocols, AMCT International Instructor’s Conference, July 2003, Phoenix. Authored and developed the course content. Course subsequently adopted for the Activator Methods International academic curriculum of 2003; now accepted in all AMCT seminars internationally
  • Activator Methods International, “Researcher of the Year” Award, July 2003, Phoenix


Patients Say It Best:  

"For almost three months, I have been receiving chiropractic treatment from Dr. Schaeffer. After just one visit, I could really tell a difference in how I felt. I am most amazed by his knowledge of TMJ. For years, I have suffered from TMJ ,and the Activator Method Dr. Schaeffer utilizes has alleviated a majority of my symptoms." 
Jillian B., 1st time chiropractic patient