Are you having difficulty chewing or yawning? Do you have jaw pain? Do you hear a clicking noise when you open and shut your mouth? These may all be signs of TMJ dysfunction.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull through bones, tendons, and muscles. If there is an injury or damage to this joint, it can cause TMJ dysfunction. The injury or damage can be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, gum chewing, arthritis, or teeth grinding. Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can include pain in the jaw, jaw popping, headaches, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, pain in the temple region and earache.
Diagnosing TMJ Dysfunction
There are many health care professionals who can help to diagnose TMJ dysfunction such as physical therapists, dentists, and physicians.
It is important to determine the root cause of the pain symptoms and to rule out other conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, salivary gland disease or even swollen lymph nodes.
Home Remedies and Treatment for TMJ Dysfunction
Sometimes, home remedies can relieve the symptoms of TMJ syndrome. Sedative essential oils, such as clary sage and lavender may give temporary relief. Some people respond well to ice packs applied to the jaw joint to decrease pain. When home remedies do not work or the symptoms return, medical treatment may be needed.
Physical therapy is effective in the treatment of TMJ dysfunction. Our physical therapists will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the jaw, neck, shoulder and upper back to determine the cause of your symptoms. The goal of physical therapy is to improve the interaction of the muscles and joints and to restore normal function. Treatment may consist of manual interventions to the TMJ to improve joint and soft tissue mobility, modalities to decrease muscle tension and decrease pain as well as postural strengthening exercises. Our physical therapists will provide education on changes to your daily activities, such as work set up and chewing strategies that will decrease stress on the TMJ.
Other treatments that can supplement physical therapy can include a dental splint to keep teeth properly aligned and trigger point acupuncture.
Dentists and Physical Therapists
Dentists are working with specialized physical therapists to deliver effective treatment for patients with TMJ dysfunction. This team effort has led to an improvement in over 80 percent of cases. Working with our physical therapists who understand craniofacial disorders and the intricate relationship between the joints and muscles in the region is crucial to success. Our goal is to improve mobility and alignment, strengthen the affected muscles, and help you return to pain-free daily activities. Call your closest Merrimack Valley Physical Therapy to book an appointment today!