TMJ Dysfunction — What is it? Do you have it? & How do you treat it?
Have you ever experienced popping or clicking in your jaw and pain with chewing certain foods? Ear pain, tooth pain or constant headaches? Has your jaw ever locked up on you?
You may be experiencing TMJ — Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a condition that limits the natural function of your jaw. Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and it is commonly a site of pain and discomfort for women ages 20–40 years old.
TMJ dysfunction can occur for many reasons:
· Stress — grinding your teeth at night or hyperactive/tonic muscles in your jaw
· Improper Bite Alignment — an injury to your jaw or just shifting of your teeth over the years
· Poor Posture — sitting at a desk all day looking at your computer, excessive cell phone use/looking down at your phone, sitting in the car or bus for a long commute, or improper strength building at the gym (overdeveloped pec muscles and underdeveloped back muscles)
· Arthritis or Disc Displacement — wear and tear of the joint
· Neck Pain — TMJ dysfunction and neck pain are closely related and if you are being treated for neck pain, then make sure TMJ as also considered as a possible concomitant diagnosis
TMJ dysfunction should not be ignored as the pain and symptoms will increase and start to affect your daily activities.
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DID YOU KNOW that physical therapy is the favorable treatment for TMJ dysfunction and has shown better results than surgery or splints via scientific research?
Did you also know that you can start physical therapy today without a prescription from an MD for your TMJ dysfunction?
Download the betterPT app to find a trusted physical therapy clinic in your area and book an appointment that works for you.
The treatment strategies that you will learn in physical therapy are:
· Activity Modification — such as avoid chewing gum or hard foods, avoid resting your cell phone between your shoulder and ear, avoid opening your mouth wider than 2 fingers width, avoid sleeping on your stomach, etc
· Jaw Exercises — jaw wiggle, finding your jaw resting position, chin tucks, stretching your neck muscles and chest muscles, tongue to roof of mouth exercise with controlled opening and closing, jaw side to side exercise with tongue depressor, etc
· Manual Therapy Soft Tissue Exercises — your therapist will release your muscle tension inside your mouth and around your face and neck with skilled manual therapy techniques to alleviate tight tonic muscles contributing to your dysfunction. Some of the important muscles to release are: the masseter, temporalis, pterygoid, suboccipital muscles, etc.
· Manual Joint Mobility Exercises — your therapist will move your jaw and neck around with skilled manual mobilization techniques to regain proper mobility and alignment.
· Posture Training — Exercises and education will be learned to help regain your posture and regain your natural curvature of your neck. This in turn will put your jaw in optimal alignment to be pain free.
· Strengthening Exercises — scapula exercises such as rows, isometric cervical and jaw exercises, core and upper back exercises such as bird dog, etc.
Physical therapy will be personalized to your body and your specific needs and will help you regain your mobility, decrease your pain and allow you to return back to your normal, active lifestyle.
Download the betterPT app now to access the best physical therapists near you and to start on your path of getting BETTER!