Cervical Spine And TMJ

The temporal mandibular joint is perhaps the most complicated joint in the human body. Muscles and ligaments attach the mandible to the temporal bones. Both sides must be synchronously balanced with the joint to function properly. While much of the focus is on the mandible and the occlusion of the teeth, we have found that the key to stabilization is dealing with the cranium itself.


Temporomandibular joint dysfunction occurs first, and over a long period of time results in the destruction of the disc that protects the joint. There are no free nerve endings of the disc to produce pain until significant destruction has occurred. During this period many other conditions and symptoms present that are not recognized as being related to the cranial and temperomandibular joint distortion.  Many researchers and clinicians have documented this, including my own research. These cases may initially present with vertigo, chronic neck pain, headaches, atypical facial pain, visual disturbances, tinnitus, hearing loss, and many other seemingly unrelated conditions. I have presented multiple research case studies at conferences documenting this. I will share a typical case.


Cervical spine disc replacement surgery comes with complications. This paper was recently published in an Asian-Pacific chiropractic Journal. Two individuals presented at this clinic following cervical disc surgery the following complications. Chronic severe neck pain with constant radiating pain down both arms into the hands which is accompanied by a burning sensation. MRI exam following surgery appeared normal in both cases. The disc situation had been repaired or they still suffered significant symptomatology. Both were even being considered for a second surgery. However, when analyzing pre-and post-MRIs the neck appeared to be antalgic with a loss of the normal cervical curve. In a dysfunctional temporomandibular joint where the mandible goes posterior, the neck has to curve forward to compensate for this. Upon further examination, both patients presented with reduced range of motion of the temporomandibular joint with palpatory pain of the joint and surrounding structures.  Neither patient reported any pain or locking of the temperomandibular joint.

Cranial treatment was administered to correct the cranial distortion and move the mandible into the correct position. The patients bite (occlusion) was then balanced using a lower occlusal splint (specific type of mouthguard). The cranium, mandible, and occlusion were balanced as a functional unit. This resulted in normal temporomandibular joint movement which brought the cervical spine back into proper relationship with the mandible. Both patients had a significant reduction in symptoms and considerations for any further surgery or canceled. The total treatment plan involved 8 to 10 visits with me and four with the dentist. I will post this research paper in the research section of the website for further viewing.

This is a perfect example of how asymptomatic temporomandibular joint dysfunction can have seemingly unrelated problems.

For more on Cervical Spine and TMJ, visit California Cranial Institute in Los Gatos, California. Call (408) 395-8006 to schedule an appointment today.

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