Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
TMJ stands for ‘Temporomandibular Joint’. This is your jaw joint located just in front of your ears and made up of your mandible and the temporal bone of your skull. We use this joint over 3,000 times per day, more frequently than any other joint in the body. This joint moves with talking, swallowing, chewing and yawning. The TMJ is able to produce great forces, up to 190 pounds, for biting and chewing and is also able to control fine movements when swallowing and speaking.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
TMD stands for ‘Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction’. TMJ dysfunction occurs when the muscles and ligaments around your jaw joints become inflamed or irritated. The condition may be acute or chronic, and the resulting pain may be mild or severe.
What Causes TMD?
TMD can be caused by direct trauma to the joint or surrounding tissues. Other common causes include:
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint
- Improper bite or recent dental work
- Disruption of the internal structures of the joint
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
TMJ dysfunction is most common in those 20 to 40 years of age and is more common in women than in men. Some of the most common TMD symptoms include:
- Jaw pain
- Ear fullness or pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Locking of the jaw in the open or closed position
- Clicking or popping when you open or close your mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Difficulty chewing, yawning or talking
- Tooth pain
- Changes in the way the teeth fit together
- A tired feeling on the sides of your face
- Swelling on the sides of your face
- Pain in the neck or shoulders
What Should I Do about TMD?
If you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, it may be helpful to consult your doctor or dentist regarding any imaging or diagnostic testing that may need to be done. Your dentist may also recommend a splint or night guard to reduce the damage possibly being done to your teeth.
Other ways to manage your pain or symptoms include:
- Avoiding any extreme jaw motions or positions
- Avoid wide yawning
- Don’t rest your chin on your hand or hold the telephone between your shoulder and ear. Practice good posture to reduce neck and facial pain.
- Keep your teeth slightly apart, lips closed and tongue resting flat on the roof of your mouth as often as you can to relieve pressure on the jaw.
- Transitioning to a temporary soft food diet (avoid crunchy or chewy foods)
- Use over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Use ice over the area to reduce pain or heat to reduced stiffness
- Use self massage techniques around the area to relieve tension in tight muscles
Our physical therapists at Fyzical of Shady Grove are specialized in treating TMD. Seeing one of our therapists can help you identify the possible causes of your symptoms, teach you ways to manage your symptoms and treat your symptoms using manual techniques and exercise to reduce your pain and get you back to living your best life!