Managing Your TMJ Pain
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the temporal bone of the skull to the lower jaw (mandible). It is just in front of the ears. These joints allow you to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to the joint control the position and movement of the joint.
Treatment is typically provided twice weekly for 4-5 weeks and is done in conjunction with strengthening, stretching and functional exercises. continuation of all normal activities throughout the treatment process promotes optimal healing.
Injury to the jaw or muscles of the head and neck (such as from a heavy blow or whiplash) can cause TMJ pain. Other common causes include:
- Poor Posture
- Missing teeth or malocclusions
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc in the joint
- Stress, which can cause tightening of facial, jaw and neck muscles
- Ear pain
- Neck pain
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Uncomfortable or painful bite
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw in open or closed position
- Pain with opening or closing your mouth as in yawning
There are multiple ways to manage and frequently resolve your TMJ pain. Your Dentist and Physical Therapist together play an important role in alleviating pain and restoring your normal function.
THE DENTIST’S ROLE
A Dentist specializing in TMJ disorders typically manages your TMJ pain by providing treatment such as: Splinting, Medication, Injections, Orthodontics or Restorative Work.
THE PHYSICAL THERAPIST’S ROLE
Physical Therapists with special training manage TMJ pain by evaluating and treating your TMJ, muscles of mastication, cervical spine tissues, and posture. We utilize manual therapy techniques, modalities, and exercise programs to:
- Relieve pain
- Decrease muscle spasm and stiffness
- Improve range of motion
- Restore normal TMJ function
We also provide patient education, habit modification and postural awareness training.
Contact your health care provider to discuss a referral for physical therapy if you are having any of these issues. If your insurance does not require a physician referral, you may contact us directly. Call our Tukwila (206) 248-3080 or West Seattle (206) 933-1030 office to schedule your initial evaluation.