The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ear. The TMJ hinges, allowing you to move your mouth when you talk, yawn, or chew. TMJ disorder is pain in and around your jaw. It may also include popping/clicking, ringing in the ears, headaches, limited mouth opening or a tendency for the jaw to “lock”. Physical therapy can be used to treat those symptoms by restoring proper jaw movement and lessening daily stress on the jaw.
- Bad posture habits
- Chronic jaw clenching & poor sleep hygiene
- Problems with teeth alignment
- Trismus (lockjaw)
- Displacement of the disc
Did You Know?
It is estimated that up to 25% of the population has pain associated with TMJ, but only 3-4% actively seek treatment. Physical therapy can serve as an essential preventative measure as well as a physical rehabilitative resource.
How a Physical Therapist Can Help
TMJ dysfunction ultimately results in functional limitations due to pain or impaired movement, regardless of its original cause. Physical Therapists specialize in the restoration of movement patterns, including those of the facial region. They may use the following techniques to reduce symptoms:
- Reduce acute pain and inflammation using treatments like electrical stimulation or ultrasound
- Decrease compressive forces in the joint with manual therapy techniques
- Improve motor patterns associated with talking and chewing via specific exercises
- Promote awareness of postural and lifestyle factors that contribute to TMJ dysfunction