Anyone with recurrent or chronic TMJ syndrome is usually referred for physical therapy. Our therapist can help restore joint mobility, increase muscle strength, and relieve pain. These mobilizations are used to help the disk move in a normal way, decrease pain, and increase motion. Specific exercises are then prescribed to control and restore motion at the jaw and help re-educate the muscles surrounding the joint. Muscle stiffness in the neck and shoulders are now quite common with those who work at a computer all day. This causes headaches common with TMJ, but also can unknowingly force the jaw muscles to contract both during the day and at night. Constant muscle contraction will eventually force the jawbone and joints out of proper alignment, which is what causes the clicking, or even locked jaw commonly associated with TMJ.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
The TMJ is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ears. TMD is a condition that limits the natural function of the jaw.
- Jaw pain/fatigue
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Popping sounds in your jaw
- Locking jaw
Associated symptoms include:
- Ringing in your ears
- Neck pain
Our physical therapist will conduct an in-depth physical exam that includes:
- Jaw tracking and neck movement/range of motion
- Soft tissue and muscle contributing to or affected by TMJ
- Joint mobility
The therapist will evaluate the jaw and mouth to determine the amount of mobility and tension in the surrounding muscles. This evaluation includes a detailed assessment of the jaw, mouth, and neck, which will serve as the foundation for an exercise program to address muscle imbalances. Strengthening, stretching, and relaxation techniques will help reduce pain and restore function. Untreated TMJ dysfunction can result in your impaired concentration, inability to chew food which leads to poor nutrition, difficulty sleeping and psychological distress. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, contact your physical therapist. TMJ imbalance can be treated successfully and your physical therapist can be your biggest ally in the recovery process.