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Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Posted by Eqphysio on 8 February 2019
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders


The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint located in front of the ear and connects the jaw bone (mandible) to the skull. Between the mandible and the socket (skull) is a disc which allows the smooth movement of opening and closing the jaw. The joint is held in place by ligaments and muscles.



TMJ disorders are relatively common, affecting more women than men, and can result in a painful, clicking or locking jaw.

Not all TMJ disorders require treatment, particularly if there is clicking but no associated pain, and often symptoms improve with time. However, for those where symptoms persist there are various treatments available.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include:

  • Jaw clicking or popping, with or without pain

  • Inability to fully clench jaw

  • Limitations to jaw opening

  • Jaw locking

  • Jaw muscle tenderness

  • Dull ache in jaw which can include the face, ear and teeth

  • Pain with talking, chewing and/or yawning

  • Headaches and dizziness

  • Ear pain and tinnitus


Causes of TMJ Disorders

  • Dysfunction or spasm of the chewing muscles (Masseter) due to:

    • Nocturnal teeth grinding and clenching (Bruxism)

    • Dental procedures with prolonged wide opening of mouth

    • Stress

  • Displacement of the TMJ articular disc

  • Poor neck (cervical) posture

  • Arthritis

  • Trauma


Self Help Treatments

Some people have symptoms that improve without seeking any professional treatment.

Here are six easy ways you can try to relieve your TMJ symptoms yourself:

  1. Rest your jaw by eating by soft foods. Avoid "chewy" foods, chewing gum, nail biting and exessive talking

  2. Check your neck posture e.g. avoid "poked-neck" posture as this can put strain on the muscles around your jaw and neck                                                                                                                                                                            

  3. Manage stress and anxiety. For example yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are great ways to de-stress and help you relax

  4. Heat packs - when applied up to four times per day along your TMJ can reduce pain and relax the muscles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  5. When yawning try not to open your jaw too wide

  6. Avoid leaning on you jaw eg. resting your jaw against your hand



How can Physiotherapy help persistent TMJ Disorders?

If your symptoms don't improve with the self help techniques, Physiotherapy may be required. Physiotherapy can help reduce pain and improve movement of the jaw.

Some treatments may include:

  • Posture improvement of the cervical spine

  • TMJ muscle lengthening massage

  • Mobilisations of the TMJ

  • Prescription of strengthening and stabilising exercises

  • Relaxation exercises

  • Dry needling

  • Laser

  • Ultrasound

The vast majority of people suffering from TMJ disorders respond well with conservative physiotherapy treatment and improve significantly within a few weeks.


If you suffer from pain or dysfunction that is not resolving, our Physiotherapists at Equilibrium Physiotherapy are fully qualified to assess and if necessary treat your condition or recommend the best course of action.


Phone: 9553 8145
Or if you're in the area, drop on by and have a chat with us to see if we can help in any way. We're located at 1/45 Montgomery St, Kogarah NSW 2217.

Tags:TMJ Pain

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