What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It functions to help move your jaw for activities like chewing and speaking.
What is TMD?
TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder and refers to any disorder that involves the TMJ. Things that can cause TMD include bruxism (grinding/clenching your teeth), arthritis, dislocation of the disc within the TMJ, improper bite, and trauma, among other issues.
Symptoms of TMD
There are a variety of symptoms associated with TMD, and all symptoms should be discussed with your medical doctor and/or dentist. These symptoms include:
• Limited jaw opening
• Jaw pain
• Clicking/popping with jaw opening/closing
• Neck/shoulder pain
• “Locking” of the jaw in an open or closed position
• Difficulty chewing
• Ringing in your ears
• Tooth pain
Self Help Tip
If you have pain and clicking/popping in your jaw with opening, practice keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth while yawning and opening your mouth. This will prevent excessive mobility of your TMJ.
How can PT help?
At OMPT, we use manual therapy techniques to improve joint and muscle mobility throughout the body. In many cases, individuals with TMD also experience upper neck issues, so both the TMJ and neck will be assessed during your initial evaluation. Extraoral (outside the mouth) and intraoral (in the mouth) techniques can be used based on your comfort level and severity of symptoms. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop an appropriate exercise program and teach you about posture and symptom management techniques to address your limitations. Your PT may also talk to you about seeing a dentist to be fitted for a bite guard if you do not have one already.
If you are experiencing any symptoms related to TMJ or want to know more information, please contact OMPT Specialists to set up a free consultation!
By Jyl Randall PT, DPT, OMPT