AOPT Health Blog
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Did you know that jaw/mouth pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need to see a dentist? Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition that affects the natural functions of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing, and it currently impacts over 10 million people in the United States. The causes of this condition range from poor posture to fractures or conditions such as lockjaw, where the muscles around the jaw spasm and reduce the opening of the mouth. Many people aren’t aware that TMD is a condition that is treatable with physical therapy.

Common Symptoms

  • Jaw pain or fatigue
  • Difficulty opening your mouth to eat or talk
  • Ringing in your ears, dizziness, and headache
  • Popping sounds in your jaw
  • Locking jaw

Causes

There are a wide variety of conditions that can cause TMD, some include:

  • Bad Posture Habits – It is very common for those of us that spend a lot of time seated or doing repetitive motions to find that we hold our head too far forward. This forward head position puts a strain on the muscles, disk, and ligaments of the temporomandibular joint.
  • Chronic Jaw Clenching – This is commonly due to stress and can occur both while people are awake and asleep.
  • Displacement of the disc or soft tissue in the temporomandibular joint which causes popping and clicking of the jaw and oftentimes pain as well.
  • Arthritis

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Physical therapists can help you restore the natural movement of the jaw and decrease pain. Depending on the cause and presentation, treatment may include:

  • Posture Education – Your physical therapist will teach you to be aware of your posture so that you can improve the resting position of your jaw, head, neck, and shoulder blades when you are sitting and walking.
  • Improving Jaw Movement – Physical therapists use manual therapy techniques to gently increase movement and relieve pain in the tissues and joints.
  • Referral to a Dentist – If your TMD is caused by teeth alignment problems, your physical therapist can refer you to a dentist who specializes in TMD.

If you are experiencing symptoms similar to what is described above we want to help! Here at AOPT we are offering free screens where you will have the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with one of our physical therapists. Begin your road to recovery with us today!

References

Retrieved from https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-temporomandibular-joint-disorder


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