What is your TMJ?
Your TMJ is also known as your temporomandibular joint which is located in front of your ears. It’s what connects your mandible to your skull and is on both sides of your head. It’s made up of two bones and a disc. The complex joint is important because it enables you to eat, speak and it allows your mouth to open or close. When you use your TMJ when opening your mouth, the mandible spins inside the joint during the first part of opening then the mandible glides across your temporal bone to finish the movement.
What is TMJ pain and what can cause it?
TMJ pain or temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) occurs when the moment of the joint is not coordinated in some manner which then results in a misalignment of the joint. This is when pain or discomfort occurs and these can vary in a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Examples of a dysfunctional TMJ are: pain in the area, clicking or piping of the jaw, lock jaw, having difficulty chewing food, muscle spasms and/or headaches. The TMJ can be a result of trauma to the area, arthritis, long-term clenching or grinding, connective tissue diseases or other reasons.
How can your Physiotherapist treat your TMJ dysfunction ?
First a physiotherapist will determine why your dysfunction has developed. If your TMJ is due to a tight joint or because of muscle spasms, manual therapy techniques may improve these symptoms. TMJ issues can also be the result of poor posture. Your physiotherapist can give instructions on how to improve your head posture, ergonomics at work, or identify the poor habits of your posture that result in your TMJ dysfunction. A physiotherapist can determine the right pain remedy for your TMJ such as prescribed exercises, intramuscular stimulation (IMS), posture correction, manual therapy, and even laser therapy. Ultrasounds can also be used for diagnostic purposes to pinpoint where the TMJ issue is coming from.
What are some things you can do to decrease your TMJ dysfunction ?
Regularly perform your exercises given to you from your physiotherapist, avoid hard or chewy foods (example: gum), recognize when you’re clenching or grinding, and remember what your physiotherapist determined as a good head posture!
What if your TMJ dysfunction cannot be corrected with physical therapy treatment?
Anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers or muscle relaxers can be prescribed to help with pain. Options of either a night guard and an oral splint can be used to treat TMJ issues and prevent damage to your teeth or TMJ joint. And if all else fails, surgery or injections can be suggested procedures to alleviate your TMJ pain by your physiotherapist or doctor.
When should you make an appointment ?
If you’re feeling any pain in your face, jaw, temple or even your ears, you could be having this as a result of TMJ dysfunction. Make sure to book in for a proper assessment so your individual needs can be identified and met! It’s important to us at VanCity Physio you’re not suffering with your TMJ issues and we’re trained to help get you to bounce back! Don’t wait, the sooner you’re in the better you’ll feel!
Book a consultation today: https://vancityphysio.com/ And follow us on Instagram: VanCity Physio (@vancityphysiotherapy)