Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Physio - Active Physio Health

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Physio

Does your jaw click? Does your jaw ever get stuck or locked? Do you have a headache or facial pain on one side? Is your ear ringing, or feel like it might be blocked?

If so, you may have a problem with one of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These little joints play a big role in your life: speaking and eating! Problems with the TMJ can arise by stress, injury or dental issues.

The TMJ is composed of two articulating bones: the temporal bone (part of the skull) and the condyle of the mandible (jaw bone). There is an articular disc located between the two bones. The disc is firm but flexible, and its purpose is to reduce friction and cushion the repetitive force between the two bones during chewing, talking, and any other joint movement. During jaw opening, the condyle of the mandible and the articular disc normally slide forward in unison. The muscles surrounding the joint are responsible for moving the mandible and the disc in sync. If the condyle and the disc are out of sync with each other, this is called disc displacement and is characterized by pain and clicking sounds when opening the mouth.

Symptoms are following:

    • Jaw pain when opening the mouth wide or chewing
    • Locking of the jaw
    • Limited range of motion, or unable to fully open the mouth
    • Painful clicking or popping when opening or closing the mouth
    • Tooth wear and tear from grinding or clenching the jaw
    • Facial pain
    • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears

Treating the TMJ is a specialist area if Physiotherapy, and an area which we are trained in. We will assess your TMJ for mobility and tracking (how well it moves), the muscles around the jaw, and your neck.

After the assessment we will explain our findings and provide advice on how to get your TMJ feeling better for you. Treatment includes an exercise program of specific TMJ exercises and hands-on therapy for the joint and muscles. They can also use acupuncture or ultrasound to help with pain relief, as well as instruct in the application of heat or ice around the TMJ and neck. Massage Therapy can also be beneficial in the treatment of TMJ disorders.

Other options for treatment include:

    • Relaxation procedures
    • Acupuncture
    • Dietary modification to relieve jaw pain during chewing
    • Dental orthotics or mouthguards worn at night. These help to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching
    • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Medications to relax the muscles of the jaw

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a complex and multifaceted condition. With all the factors that can contribute to TMD it is important to visit a physiotherapist for a detailed assessment to ensure treatment is individualized to your specific issues.  If you experience jaw pain and headaches, consider seeking help from us to see how we can improve your symptoms.

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