Written By: Alena Walrath, PTA
The temporomandibular joint, commonly known as TMJ, is located just in front of your ear on both sides of your head. It connects the upper and lower jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth. If this joint is not functioning properly, it can cause symptoms such as stiffness, locking, clicking, popping, pain, soreness, ringing in your ears, or headaches. Medical professionals refer to problems with the TMJ as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
Dentists are often able to diagnose TMD during a routine dental examination. Your dentist may notice problems with your bite or the alignment of your teeth. He or she may also detect evidence that you are grinding your teeth at night. Findings such as these can play an important part in helping prevent and treat symptoms of TMD.
Did you know that physical therapists are also able to treat patients with TMD? Physical therapy can help to relieve symptoms of TMD and prevent them from reoccurring. Poor posture is a common cause of TMD. Your physical therapist can work with you to correct positions that may be causing pain or discomfort and strengthen weak muscles to make it easier to achieve better posture on your own. High levels of stress and tightness in jaw and neck muscles can also exacerbate symptoms. For example, if you are experiencing high-stress levels, you may not notice that you are shrugging your shoulders, grinding or clenching your teeth. Physical therapy can also address muscle imbalances caused by facial surgery, fractures or trauma and help with pain relief.
Contact us to learn more about how physical therapy can help your TMJ symptoms.
Note: Jaw pain is also a symptom of a heart attack and should not be ignored, visit the American Heart Association website to learn more.