Finding Relief For Your Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction With Physical Therapy
The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. If there is trauma or an injury to this joint, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. TMJ dysfunction is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is a complex and important structure composed of bones, tendons, and muscles that may cause you to feel pain on one or both sides of the jaw. This can make it very difficult to open your mouth, talk, yawn, and chew.
If you are having difficulty chewing or yawning, have jaw pain, or hear a clicking noise when you open and shut your mouth, you could have TMJ dysfunction. Request an appointment with ProTailored Physical Therapy to find relief for your TMJ dysfunction with physical therapy.
How can I tell if I have TMJ Dysfunction?
There is no single method or surefire way of diagnosing TMJ dysfunction. If you believe you may be suffering from this condition, a medical professional will analyze your medical history and perform a physical exam. Your physician may also send you to an otolaryngologist or a dentist specializing in jaw disorders.
The idea is to rule out other medical problems before diagnosing the patient with TMJ dysfunction, as the symptoms may also be due to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, salivary gland disease, or even swollen lymph nodes. Once your diagnosis has been determined, you will be treated based on the nature of your symptoms.
Symptoms of this TMJ dysfunction include pain in the jaw, jaw popping, headaches, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, pain in the temple, and earaches. There are many reasons why TMJ dysfunction may develop, but some common causes include misalignment of the teeth, gum chewing, arthritis, teeth grinding, or a jaw injury.
How will physical therapy help with my TMJ Dysfunction?
In some cases, home remedies can be used to treat TMJ dysfunction. Some people respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin. Applying ice packs directly to the jaw joint can also help relieve pain. You may also find temporary relief through sedative essential oils, such as clary sage or lavender. When home remedies don’t work at providing long-term relief, medical intervention may be necessary. Stronger muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to manage pain. A jaw specialist may also use a dental splint to keep teeth properly aligned and prevent tooth grinding. Other types of medical treatment include trigger point acupuncture, joint replacement, or a TMJ arthroscopy.
However, if you want to avoid taking pain-relieving medication and use a more holistic approach, physical therapy is perhaps one of the most effective treatments for TMJ dysfunction. At your initial appointment with ProTailored Physical Therapy, a comprehensive evaluation will be done on your neck, shoulder girdle, and thoracic spine in order to determine if those structures are causing your symptoms. Afterward, one of our dedicated Fort Wayne physical therapists will create a treatment plan based on the nature of your symptoms and your specific needs.
Our physical therapist will analyze your jaw mobility and release muscle tension in the areas surrounding your neck and head. The goal of physical therapy is to restore your normal function and the interaction of the jaw muscles and joints. Your treatment plan may consist of any combination of methods and modalities, including jaw exercises, soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, myofascial techniques, or electrical stimulation.
COMMON QUESTIONS REGARDING TMJ | Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
Why do I have TMJ pain/dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint, like any other joint, can become inflamed and present with pain. Often, this occurs secondary to clenching or grinding your teeth together, stress, poor posture, and/or arthritis.
What does posture have to do with my TMJ pain?
Believe it or not – your posture may be greatly impacting the alignment of your jaw. With slumped shoulders and head forward body mechanics, the jaw can slightly protrude forward – contributing to misalignment of the TMJ.
Could my TMJ pain be contributing/linked to my headaches?
The muscles of the jaw and neck can (and often do) refer pain up and into the head. So, yes, your headache pain could absolutely be related to your TMJ dysfunction. Here at ProTailored Physical Therapy, our skilled doctors of physical and occupational therapists are trained to address not only your joint dysfunction but also the taut musculature that refers pain in the head to decrease and eliminate your headaches.
What can I be doing right now to alleviate my TMJ pain?
Cross friction massage over the musculature of the jaw can reduce tension on the TMJ. To do this, place your fingers right in front of your ears and open and close your jaw a few times. The movement underneath your fingertips is coming from your temporomandibular joint. To relieve pain and decrease the tension in your jaw, you can begin to lightly rub small circles over this area – building up pressure as you’re able. After spending some time in this area, you can work up to your temples or down the jaw bone. This technique should relieve some of the tension/pain you are experiencing!
Why should I come to ProTailored Physical Therapy for my TMJ pain?
While there are some things you can be doing right now to decrease your TMJ pain on your own – our Doctors of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy will be able to provide you with a comprehensive plan of care to address both your pain and the underlying. Our clinicians are trained to release the taut musculature in and around your jaw through techniques such as dry needling, active trigger point release, and joint mobilizations. In addition to this, our physical and occupational therapists will provide you with resources and education to prevent your jaw pain from returning.
What is dry needling and how will it help my jaw pain?
Dry needling is a technique that all of our Doctors of Physical Therapy are certified to perform. This method of treatment allows clinicians to effectively release tension and trigger points within the muscles of the jaw, thus decreasing tension on the temporomandibular joint. For more information regarding dry needling and what all it entails – checks out our Dry Needling page under the “How We Treat” tab.
Contact ProTailored Physical Therapy for relief
Our physical therapists are patient-centric and committed to your health, working hard to help you manage and eliminate symptoms. If you are in Fort Wayne, IN suffering from the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, request an appointment at ProTailored Physical Therapy by calling our Fort Wayne physical therapy office at 260-739-0300. Don’t suffer from jaw pain and stiffness any longer.