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 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
Displacement of the TMJ articular disc
Poor neck (cervical) posture
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:
Rest your jaw by eating by soft foods. Avoid "chewy" foods, chewing gum, nail biting and exessive talking
Check your neck posture e.g. avoid "poked-neck" posture as this can put strain on the muscles around your jaw and neck
Manage stress and anxiety. For example yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are great ways to de-stress and help you relax
Heat packs - when applied up to four times per day along your TMJ can reduce pain and relax the muscles
When yawning try not to open your jaw too wide
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
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.
Our physiotherapists are trained to recognise, assess and treat patients that are suffering from vertigo from a vestibular origin such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuronitis/labyrinthitis and following acoustic neuroma resection.