The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone that lies in front of the ears on either side. This hinged joint, along with surrounding muscles and tendons, controls the movement of the jaw to be able to talk, eat, chew, yawn, and more.
When the movement of Temboromandibular joint (TMJ) is affected and is causing locking or pain, the condition is referred to as Temboromandibular joint Dysfunction or TMD. Commonly, this dysfunction is referred to as TMJ which is incorrect as TMJ is the actual joint.
TMJ pain & dysfunction commonly happens after dental procedures and motor vehicle accidents (MVA). Muscle disorders, injuries to head and neck such as whiplash or falls can cause TMD. Arthritis and other derangements that can cause dislocation of the disc also result in TMD or TMJ pain.
The most common symptom associated with TMJ dysfunction (TMD) is a pain in your jaw when you eat or face or around your ear. This pain can be mild or severe and can develop gradually or be sudden. Sudden severe pain is usually associated with joint locking.
Other symptoms may include:
A dentist or your doctor or physiotherapist will ask questions to find out the possible causes for your pain condition and a description of symptoms that you are experiencing. A physical exam will then be performed to assess the muscular tension, the range of motion and if there are abnormal sounds when you open and close your mouth. Your dentist, doctor, or TMJ specialist may order an x-ray or MRI if they believe the issue may be related to the bones or discs of the joint.
The best treatment for TMJ pain or TMD is a treatment plan to address the root cause of your pain and is tailored to your situation. This should include:
A consultation with your dentist is necessary as you may need to be fitted with a mouth guard to help prevent grinding your teeth at night. In some cases, a referral to a TMJ specialist may be necessary. This referral may be initiated by your dentist or medical doctor.
The cause of TMJ Dysfunction (TMD) is often not clear; however, there are a few factors that combine to increase the risk of an individual for developing the condition. These include:
While TMJ dysfunction is considered to be a dental tissue, physiotherapy is known to be beneficial in the management of the condition. Some of the techniques that physiotherapists use to improve the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include :
At Physiomobility we have a team of qualified and experienced physiotherapists who treat TMD and TMJ pain. We will work closely with your dentist or TMJ specialist to ensure your jaw pain is managed well and you learn how to maintain your mobility.
A successful treatment plan for jaw pain requires your own involvement. Follow your exercises and treatment plan prescribed by your physiotherapist, wear your mouthguard as instructed by your dentist and apply simple methods to ease jaw pain and speed up your recovery: