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6 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of TMJ in a “Click” | Springfield, Illinois

By June 8, 2021February 23rd, 2023No Comments8 min read

We don’t often think of our jaws as being a source of pain or a problematic area. Our jaws are meant for eating delicious food, blowing bubbles with our kids, and endlessly gossiping about what our college roommate is up to – spoiler alert: it involves jungle cats and encrypted text messages.

As a chiropractor for TMJ in Springfield, Illinois, I see firsthand how devastating it is when TMJ pain gets in the way of everyday things that usually bring us a lot of joy. And my patients are not alone. A staggering 10 million people suffer from TMJ symptoms regularly and it’s believed that 17.8 million workdays are lost EACH YEAR due to the disabling pain of TMJ.


Except we have.

TMJ is the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. A TMJ disorder can lead to pain that makes speaking, chewing, and yawning a nightmare. The interruption of these daily activities that we take for granted can be extremely stressful and frustrating, and affects many sufferers’ quality of sleep.

TMJ is a very unique joint in that it both hinges and glides – open and closed, right and left, forward and backward. It’s a complex and heavily trafficked joint. It looks something like this:


TMJ disorders are usually due to:

  • Muscular issues in the jaw
  • Arthritis caused by inflammation or degeneration
  • Injury to the joint itself

The jaw plays a very important role in our day-to-day lives, and connects to many sensitive nerve roots, which makes TMJ symptoms devastating to someone’s quality of life. Symptoms like:

  • Limited movement of “lockjaw”
  • Problems chewing and pain when eating
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Grinding of the teeth
  • Muscle pain in and around the jaw, neck, face, ears, and shoulders
  • Spasms and swelling around the jaw and face
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Earaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Problems sleeping

What’s troubling is that 25% of people with TMJ disorders don’t experience any pain or loss of normal function. Without symptoms to indicate an issue their condition can go untreated for many years. Leaving the problem unaddressed for years makes it harder to control inflammation and reverse joint dysfunction.


We all know some people for whom it might not be the worst idea for them to get their jaws wired shut…


…but I certainly wouldn’t recommend that treatment option to any of my patients. There are great natural remedies for TMJ pain that don’t involve a muzzle.

Targeted Exercises

At the Springfield Wellness Center, we recommend a variety of TMJ exercises that we give to patients to manage their pain at home. These are gentle exercises that stretch and relax the jaw muscles to help increase range of motion. Don’t worry, they don’t look weird at all.

Chiropractor for TMJ pain relief in Springfield, Illinois

Repeated and small movements of opening and closing the jaw, as well as gently pulling on the mandible to relieve tension, are great ways to take pressure off of the jaw and improve joint movement. Patients who complete their exercises begin to cover jaw function earlier than those that rely on NSAID medication.

Reduce Stress and Get to Sleep

Stress and TMJ are inextricably linked. Stress not only affects muscle tension but also our body’s ability to heal itself. Learning relaxation techniques to better manage our stress will help us get the symptoms of our TMJ disorder under control.

  • Stretching
  • Meditating
  • Praying
  • Breathwork
  • Guided imagery
  • Exercise

Lowering our stress levels will also help improve our sleep habits. Getting quality sleep is critical to controlling inflammation. Sleep also helps lower stress, the cyclicality of nature. If sleep is a problem because of TMJ pain, try sleeping on the side or invest in a mouth guard to prevent grinding and encourage jaw relaxation overnight. Mouthguards also work wonders for those looking to prevent unwanted kisses from partners before bed.



While targeted exercises are great for stretching and strengthening the jaw, regularly exercising the entire body is great for overall health and lowering stress. 30-60 minutes of daily exercise helps to decrease inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and improve sleep quality. It may seem weird to think of swimming or bicep curls as a way to relieve pain in the jaw, but the body is one unit that works together. Strengthening one part makes the whole stronger.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

People usually think of eating soft, easy-to-chew food when dealing with jaw pain, but it’s possible to eat things other than baby food and porridge and not exacerbate the pain.

An anti-inflammatory diet will help to reduce swelling and joint deterioration.

  • Omega-3 foods – wild-caught fish

Fights inflammation and improves circulation.

  • Collagen protein

Rebuilds tissue.

  • Foods high in electrolytes – leafy greens, broccoli, cruciferous veggies, berries, mashed sweet potatoes

The magnesium, calcium, and potassium in these foods prevent muscle spasms.

  • Eggs, raw dairy, and protein shakes

Great way to get protein without having to gnash on a steak or suffer through a chicken breast.

  • Anti-inflammatory herbs and teas – green tea, turmeric, raw garlic

Avoiding inflammatory foods like added sugar, refined grains, alcohol, and caffeine will help to relieve stress, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and anxious teeth clenching.

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Reduce Pain Naturally

Doctors often recommend over-the-counter painkillers for TMJ pain relief, but those carry with them side effects that further destabilize our health. They also distract us from the real problem by centering pain as the real issue, as opposed to the underlying condition causing the pain. I sound like a college professor. There are many ways to find relief naturally that aren’t habit-forming, side effect riddled capsules.

Alternating between ice and heat can help to relax the muscles, lower inflammation, and improve circulation which speeds up healing.


Supplementing with B vitamin complex, magnesium, calcium, glucosamine, vitamin C, and cortisol lowering adaptogen herbs help prevent stress-related symptoms.

Essential oils have many qualities that lower anxiety and decrease pain. Peppermint oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, frankincense oil, and rosemary oil all work to lower stress, swelling, and tension.

Chiropractic Care

TMJ sufferers waste a lot of time chasing symptoms and get exhausted and frustrated that they can’t find long-lasting TMJ relief. Addressing the pain is great to improve our overall quality of life, but until the underlying issue has been corrected the pain will continue to be a nuisance.

One of the underlying issues that cause TMJ disorders is a misalignment of the cervical spine. If a vertebra falls out of alignment it can cause imbalanced muscle tension, nerve irritation, and postural changes that add unnecessary stress to the jaw. Unusual pressure placed on the joint itself can also be a reason for a misalignment in the jaw.

Correcting these misalignments through chiropractic adjustments is a permanent solution to TMJ pain. It will reduce pain and discomfort, but also relieve the symptoms that often shack up with TMJ pain like neck pain, headaches, and earaches.


It’s always helpful to be enlightened to natural ways to deal with pain since pain is hugely effective at ruining our lives, but pain is not the problem. Pain is our body’s alarm system telling us that there is a fundamental issue with our health. Just addressing pain will ensure that it comes roaring back. We should use pain as a sign to correct the underlying issue to keep pain and disease at bay.

TMJ pain can interfere with the best parts of being alive, so let’s heed its warning. Chiropractic treatment is the best long-term, natural solution for TMJ pain. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. There’s a way to turn off that alarm system for good. Regular preventative spinal care can help ensure that our body is functioning at its very best and we are not sidelined or distracted by pain.

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Dr. Pat Macauley

Growing up in St. Louis, I was heavily involved with sports such as basketball, baseball and soccer. It was my life, and I loved each and every minute of it. Little did I know, however, that this love for sports would have such a significant influence on the kind of work I wanted to do in the future.

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