Vertigo / Dizziness / Meniere's Disease and TMD
TMD, “The great imposter,” can cause postural imbalance leading to a dizzying sensation of an individual's surroundings seeming to be moving. This is called "vertigo". What is the connection between poor jaw alignment and vertigo?
Balance comes from the brain integrating information from three sources. 60 % of the information comes from the vestibular system in the inner ears and the other 40% comes from visual information and the "proprioception" information from stretch receptors of muscles and joints.
In each of our inner ears, there is a structure called 'labyrinth' that has three half-circles in three planes - superior, horizontal and posterior. These bony canals have fluid filled inner sacs where the sensing is accomplished by the movement of this fluid against hair like organs.
- Move the head up and down
- Turn the head side to side and
- Tilt head side to side over the shoulders
The information from each of these balance organs have to integrate with the information from what we see (vision) and what we sense in our muscles and joints (proprioception) to give us balance.
The balance organ lies within the inner ear which is housed in the petrous portion of the temporal bone. The glenoid fossa, which is the "socket" of the TMJ, is also part of the Temporal bone. If you put your little finger inside the ear canal and move the jaw by opening and closing, you can feel the movement of the mandible and realize how close it is to the inner ear. When the mandible is poorly aligned to the upper jaw, which is part of the skull, then there are excessive pressures in the joint that is transmitted to the socket. This can move this temporal bone just enough to move the balance organ out of position.
Normalizing the jaw alignment often leads to a correction of this misalignment of the balance organs. This would be a solution to the problem instead of just masking the symptoms of vertigo with medications.
Meniere's disease is an abnormality of the inner ear causing a host of symptoms, including vertigo or severe dizziness, tinnitus or a roaring sound in the ears, fluctuating hearing loss, and the sensation of pressure or pain in the affected ear. The disorder usually affects only one ear and is a common cause of hearing loss. It is named after French physician Prosper Meniere who first described the syndrome in 1861.
Physicians believe that there is no cure for Meniere's disease. Symptoms are controlled with diet changes, stress reduction and diuretic medications.
The other treatments are to eliminate the balance organ, cutting off the nerve to the balance organ using medications that are ototoxic to destroy the nerve chemically.
What is striking is that every one of the symptoms of Meniere's disease are commonly found with TMD: Tinnitus, pain or pressure in the ears and dizziness. Yet when all three of them occur together, then the label from 1861 is given to the condition. There have been several cases of Meniere's that have been completely resolved through neuromuscular treatment to align the jaw properly. This led to the relief of stress on the socket of the TM Joint which in turn allowed the balance organs which are extremely close to the socket to go back to normal as well.