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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chung

Research: Atlas Correction and TMJ Pain

Upper Cervical Research Foundation was published that examined the effect that Atlas Corrections had on the function of the temporomandibular joint. It's a first step towards solidifying our understanding on how the work we do in our office can be a powerful help to patients suffering from chronic jaw pian/TMJD.

The StudyRelationship between craniocervical orientation and center of force of occulsion in adults The authors of the study are clinicians in active practice. They took 11 chiropractic patients who were presenting for regular check ups and showed signs of Atlas Displacement Complex. The patients were sent to a neuromuscular dentist to evaluate their bite patterns before and after performing an Atlas Correction. The bite evaluations were performed with a digital force analysis that is able to show unequal force on different parts of the bite. This unequal force is known in dentistry as dental occlusion. The goal is to allow for equal distribution of the force from your bite throughout the teeth and jaw, which can help people with TMJ pain by decreasing abnormal tension in the jaw muscles. The patients were tested 2 times before an adjustment and 2 times after an adjustment.

Results Postural measurements were taken before and after the adjustment. As expected, patients experienced significant changes in their postural measurements after their adjustment. With the jaw measurements...there's good news and not so great news. The good news is that for most of the cases, there was a measurable and significant change in force and pressure coming from the jaw. The not so good news is that the change didn't necessarily lead to an evenly distributed force pattern, meaning that the change may or may not have been positive.

Important Points

  1. Small sample size

  2. The patients were used as their own control as opposed to having a control group

  3. The patients were active chiropractic patients with no history of TMJ issues. We can't say for sure if this effect is beneficial for patients with jaw pain.

  4. The patients tested were current patients with a history of chiropractic care. Would the results look different using new chiropractic patients who have never had an atlas correction before?

What now? While no definitive conclusions can be made about the benefits of correcting the neck, we now have some data that shows that affecting the neck can and does affect the function of the jaw. Our experience working with hundreds of TMJ cases, as well as the experience of hundreds of doctors around the country suggest that correcting the neck can have a very powerful affect on cases of jaw pain and even popping and clicking. Time will tell and with better studies how effective NUCCA can be for this debilitating pain condition.

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