The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. If there is an injury to this joint or it becomes damaged in any way, TMJ dysfunction may develop. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known as TMJ dysfunction, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness of the jaw joint and its surrounding muscles. The temporomandibular joint is a complex and important structure comprised of bones, tendons, and muscles that may cause you to feel pain on one or both sides of the jaw. This can make it very difficult to open your mouth, talk, yawn, and chew. If you are having difficulty chewing or yawning, have jaw pain, or hear a clicking noise when you open and shut your mouth, you could have TMJ dysfunction.
How can I tell if I have TMJ Dysfunction?
There is no single method or surefire way of diagnosing TMJ dysfunction. If you believe you may be suffering from this condition, a medical professional will analyze your medical history and perform a physical exam. Your physician may also send you to an otolaryngologist or a dentist specializing in jaw disorders.
The idea is to rule out other medical problems before diagnosing the patient with TMJ dysfunction, as the symptoms may also be due to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, salivary gland disease, or even swollen lymph nodes. Once your diagnosis has been determined, you will be treated based on the nature of your symptoms.
Symptoms of this TMJ dysfunction include pain in the jaw, jaw popping, headaches, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, pain in the temple, and earaches. There are many reasons why TMJ dysfunction may develop, but some common causes include misalignment of the teeth, gum chewing, arthritis, teeth grinding, or a jaw injury.
How will physical therapy help with my TMJ Dysfunction?
In some cases, home remedies can be used to treat TMJ dysfunction. Some people respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin. Applying ice packs directly to the jaw joint can also help relieve pain. You may also find temporary relief through sedative essential oils, such as clary sage or lavender. When home remedies don’t work at providing long-term relief, medical intervention may be necessary. Stronger muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to manage pain. A jaw specialist may also use a dental splint to keep teeth properly aligned and prevent tooth grinding. Other types of medical treatment include trigger point acupuncture, joint replacement, or a TMJ arthroscopy.
However, if you want to avoid taking pain-relieving medication and use a more holistic approach, physical therapy is perhaps one of the most effective treatments for TMJ dysfunction. At your initial appointment, a comprehensive evaluation will be done on your neck, shoulder girdle, and thoracic spine in order to determine if those structures are causing your symptoms. Afterward, one of our dedicated therapists will create a treatment plan based on the nature of your symptoms and your specific needs.
Our physical therapist will analyze your jaw mobility and release muscle tension in the areas surrounding your neck and head. The goal of physical therapy is to restore your normal function and the interaction of the jaw muscles and joints. Your treatment plan may consist of any combination of methods and modalities, including jaw exercises, soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, myofascial techniques, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound.
Our physical therapists are patient-centric and committed to your health, working hard to help you manage and eliminate symptoms.
Request an appointment today and find relief for your TMJ.