Jaw Pain (TMJ)

jaw-painProblems with the jaw, jaw joint and the facial muscles are called temporomandibular disorders. Many times this disorder is referred to as TMJ. TMJ is actually the acronym for the temporomandibular joint. This joint is the hinge connecting the lower jaw to the bone of the skull. These joints make it possible for many important movements to occur – especially those of talking and eating.

It is sometimes difficult to identify the cause of TMJ. Injury to the area is one cause, however stress, clenching or grinding of the teeth, arthritis or dislocation in the area can also contribute. This condition is most often seen in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40.

Most often, symptoms include pain in the joint or face. However, this pain can sometimes be referred to areas such as the shoulders or neck. Swelling may occur. Clicking or popping sounds may be heard when chewing or opening the mouth. The smooth movements of the jaw are often affected and the ability to open the mouth wide can be limited. Unfortunately, additional conditions may stem from this disorder. Headaches, pain in the neck or shoulder, hearing problems, dizziness, and even toothaches may result. Physical therapy can be beneficial in several ways. A careful evaluation can help to assess the cause of the disorder. Special stretches and gentle exercises may be recommended. Suggestions for better positioning and posture may be given. In addition, therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound can help to decrease the inflammation, increase circulation and speed healing.

MDM Physical Therapy also offers Myokinesthetic treatments. Myokinesthetics is a revolutionary treatment protocol to help patients in pain. This technique effectively “re-boots” the nervous system and helps to eliminate chronic pain pathways.