Updated: Jan 6
TMJ can be an absolute nuisance! Jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, burning eyes, ringing ears... Difficulty eating, sleeping, carrying on conversation and focusing can be some of the ways it impacts daily life. The first step in fighting back is understanding more about it.
Let's talk anatomy...
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull acting as a sliding hinge. In the TMJ Joint, there is a disc that slides back and forth as you open and close your mouth. There are also muscles that move the jaw which includes the masseter, temporalis and pterygoids. The temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause pain in the muscles or joint that control jaw movement. The disorder could be due to genetics, jaw malalignments, or injury. In most cases, the pain associated with TMJ disorder can be relieved with specialized TMJ physical therapy. We'll explain why later...
What are some symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Pain while opening your mouth
Headache and neck pain
Jaw clicking and popping
Pain in or around your ears
So what specifically causes these symptoms?
The TMJ disc moving out of its proper alignment
Muscle tension causing jaw and face pressure and pain
A blow of impact damaging the joint
Joint restrictions causing the TMJ to move improperly during mouth opening and closing
What causes one to be at risk for TMJ?
Long-term grinding or clenching of teeth
Connective tissue diseases may affect the TMJ
Poor neck posture causing tension on jaw muscles shifting the TMJ out of place
Recent Dental Work
Neck, back or shoulder issues
How can I fix it?
TMJ needs to be diagnosed and treated by a Doctor of Physical Therapy who specializes in TMJ. While the pain is coming from the TMJ region, the root cause could stem all the way from your neck or even hips! If you don't identify and fix the root cause, relief will not last. It's for that reason, many people come to our clinic for help, having tried the following failed treatments beforehand:
Retainer: It just stops you from clenching, thus giving you a few days to a week or relief, however, it does not treat the root cause of your problem. So while at times we do recommend a retainer, it is just a compliment to skilled physical therapy hands on treatments.
Massage: Who doesn't love a massage?! I know I do, but it relaxes muscles and most of the time, TMJ pain is not due to only muscle tightness, hence temporary relief.
Chiropractic: An adjustment is another thing that can feel great, that's because during a crack, natural pain killers are released... and you guessed it, that's why you had to go back over and over again, its a temporary solution for TMJ pain.
You must spend significant time during an examination identifying all causes of your TMJ issue. Disc? Capsule? Muscle? Posture? Neck Joints? Jaw Control? Next, as we treat the TMJ joint itself with hands on techniques and corrective movements. We also spend significant time identifying the root cause of the TMD. Once identified, we can prevent it from coming back. That is how you eat, sleep, focus and socialize happily like you did before ever getting TMJ disorder. We look at all the factors from toes to ears that can cause your pain and create a personalized treatment plan and execute it persistently with one on one attention.
👉🏽👉🏽If you are experiencing ongoing TMJ pain and want answers NOW, we recommend a Free Discovery Session. You get a chance to tell us what you've been experiencing and ask any questions you may have. We will give you our best advice as to what steps you should take to get back to living your life at its full potential. It is a no-obligation, no forms to sign, no credit card required, totally free consultation. This can be done Virtually or In The Clinic
👉🏽Or, Get our TMJ FREE Guide with Tips for Quick TMJ Relief:
If you have further questions regarding this blog post or other tips that can help you to relieve your headache, Contact Us at Skyline Physical Therapy!