TMJ Pain & Dysfunction
Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ Pain) Or Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) ?
The jaw or temporomandibular joint is a small joint located on either side of your face just in front of each ear. It connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to open and close your mouth to eat, chew, drink, yawn, breathe and talk. The temporomandibular joints work non-stop daily. When the TMJ becomes injured, inflamed, or sensitive, it can result in pain and limited movement and have a significant impact on how you function on a daily basis
What is the difference between TMJ Pain and TMD?
If you have jaw pain, you might have come across the above two terminologies. Both terminologies refer to the temporomandibular joint however they are quite different.
TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint.” and therefore TMJ pain relates to the joint specifically.
TMD stands for “temporomandibular joint disorder.” and it can cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control movement of the jaw. There can be several different factors causing issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When the pain is more widespread around the jaw and the TMJ is affected in its ability to function normally, it is known as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).
What Symptoms are associated with TMD?
- Difficulty and pain with opening the mouth
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw when eating
- Report of clicking of the TMJ (this can be painful or painless)
- Report of the TMJ locking
- Facial and/or neck pain
- Report of a tooth or teeth aching in the absence of problems with teeth
- Difficulty equalising ears
- Ear pain
- Tinnitus(ringing in the ear)
- Headaches, ear pain, dizziness and upper neck pain often accompany jaw pain
What causes pain and dysfunction of the TMJ?
- Trauma and injuries to the head, jaw and face
- Arthritis e.g. OA and RA
- Dental work that affects how your bite
- Sometimes after prolonged dental work or surgery
- Stress that results in habits of tensing of jaw muscles(clenching) and/or neck muscles
- Overuse e.g. excessive chewing of gum or grinding teeth at night
How can Physiotherapy Help?
- Your Body Sense physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment, including a review of your health history followed by a comprehensive physical examination.
- This assessment will help to determine what is causing and contributing to your TMD and whether physiotherapy will be helpful for you.
- If from examination, there are clear factors identified that can be treated and managed, your physiotherapist will provide you with a full treatment plan
- Firstly, your physiotherapist will help you to understand your condition, contributing factors and what will be involved to ease your pain and help you recover.
- Manual therapy may be indicated and can include a combination of soft tissue and joint mobilisation, stretching. Acupuncture or dry needling may also be applied to help relieve the symptoms.
- A specific home exercise program is important to maintain gains made in therapy, reduce pain, and improve function
- At Body Sense physiotherapy we believe in providing you with long term self-management strategies including joint and muscle stress reduction and how to manage flare-ups.