What are the common symptoms of TMJ? How can physiotherapists help you overcome this situation?

Woman is getting physical therapy from a professional physiotherapy

TMD, or temporomandibular joint disease or dysfunction, is a frequent ailment that affects the jaw’s everyday actions, such as opening and chewing. Around 15% of adults in their peak age (20 to 40 years) suffer from one or more symptoms of TMJ disorders. 

TMD is more frequent in women than in men, and it might lead to many issues, including poor posture, persistent jaw clenching, misalignment of the teeth, and fractures and disorders like lockjaw. FThe muscles surrounding the jaw spasm limit the mouth’s capacity to open. Physiotherapists can help you with TMJ pain by reducing discomfort, regaining normal jaw mobility, and reducing everyday jaw stress.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinged region of your jaw that lies immediately in front of your ears. TMJ helps you talk, eat, and yawn by working together.

What is temporomandibular joint pain?

TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) is a comprehensive term that encompasses a variety of jaw-related issues, including;

–        Catching or locking of the jaw.

–        Pain in the jaw joint or muscles.

–        Restricted ability to open your mouth.

–        Joint noises.

–        Headaches or pain related to chewing.

TMD can also lead to other head and neck issues such as headaches, neck discomfort, and ear pain. Tinnitus and hearing loss are common TMD symptoms. Find a TMJ specialist near you in Calgary that can help you alleviate your pain. 

What causes the TMD?

Improper postural habits.

Because many of us spend so much time at a desk, where we commonly hold our heads too far forward while working, TMD is quite common. There are, however, numerous additional types of improper posture. Long commutes in the vehicle, working at a checkout counter, and always holding your child on the same hip can put the head in an unnatural posture and create jaw difficulties. The forward head posture strains the TMJ’s muscles, discs, and ligaments. The chewing muscles are overused when your jaw is forced to ‘rest’ in an open position.

Issues with teeth alignment.

The TMJ is stressed when carrying out every day jaw actions like if your teeth are positioned oddly while eating. 

Chronic jaw clenching.

Many people clench their jaws when sleeping, generally due to stress. Some people clench their teeth all day, especially when they are in a stressful situation. As a result, the TMJ and its surrounding muscles are stressed.

Surgery.

Following some types of face and jaw surgery, people may experience decreased TMJ movement and function.

Fracture.

TMD is caused by a lower jaw fracture caused by a traumatic accident to the face or head. Even when the fracture has healed fully, TMJ stiffness and pain may continue.

Lockjaw.

TMD, in which the jaw muscles spasm and the jaw cannot be fully open, can be a cause and a symptom of this illness. Jaw injuries, tetanus, and radiation therapy to the face and neck can produce trismus.

Displacement.

Jaw popping and clicking, and pain are caused by the disc or soft-tissue cushion between the ball and socket of the TMJ. And arthritis in the TMJ.

Symptoms of TMJ.

Symptoms of TMJ might be short-lived or continue for years. The most frequent symptom is jaw discomfort.

–        Chest pain.

–        Numbness in the left arm.

–        Dizziness.

–        Shortness of breath.

–        Nausea.

–        Jaw fatigue.

–        Jaw pain.

–        Headache.

–        Locking jaw.

–        Popping sound in your jaw.

Treatments for temporomandibular joint pain. 

Your physical therapist could do the following to figure out what’s causing your symptoms;

–        Examine your medical history and speak with your doctor about any past fractures, surgeries, or other injuries to the head, neck, or jaw.

–        Ask you to detail your symptoms, including any headaches, and look for any neck and TMJ pain patterns.

–        Examine your jaw and neck, paying special attention to the soft tissue and muscles in the region.

Physio will examine your posture and the movement of your cervical spine, which is the top part of your spine located in your neck. Your physical therapist will assess your TMJ to see how well it operates and if any anomalies in your jaw movements exist.

How can physiotherapy treat TMD?

Postural awareness.

You exert extra stress on the muscles below your chin when you sit with your head tilted forward, causing the lower jaw to draw back and the mouth to open even while resting, placing additional strain on the TMJ. A physiotherapist will educate you on how to be conscious of your posture when sitting and walking so that you may improve the resting position of your jaw, head, neck, breastbone, and shoulder blades.

Improves jaw movement.

Physical therapists utilize expert hands-on techniques (manual therapy) to help tissues and joints move more freely and reduce discomfort. Manual treatment may stretch the jaw, restore normal joint and muscle flexibility, and break up scar tissue that can form when there is persistent damage.

Your physical therapist will teach you unique ‘low-load’ exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles and restore a more natural, pain-free mobility without putting too much strain on your TMJ.

Special pain therapy.

If your pain is severe, the physio may use electrical stimulation or ultrasound to help you feel better.

A physiotherapist might suggest you visit a dentist.

Your physical therapist can recommend you to a dentist who specializes in TMD and can rectify the alignment using specific equipment, such as ‘bite guards,’ that establish a natural resting posture to relax the TMJ, decrease discomfort, and enhance jaw function.

Conclusion.

Various illnesses can cause pain, stiffness, and other jaw and TMJ-related difficulties. TMD is the general term for these issues, and they may treat them with a personalized treatment plan tailored to your requirements. As part of your treatment plan, our physiotherapists in Calgary may offer lifestyle changes, exercises, massage, and other therapies in collaboration with your dentist or orthodontist.