Physical therapy can help individuals suffering from jaw and facial pain associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is one of the most used joints throughout the body, as it is responsible for chewing, talking, and yawning. This joint consists of the temporal bone of the skull and the mandible (jaw bone) and is separated by a small disc that allows the joint to glide properly. However, alterations in the TMJ such as too little or too much movement can result in pain and disability. Jaw pain has also recently been associated with neck pain and headache as well causing an update in the name of the disorder to Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) or craniofascial pain.
TMD can result in the following symptoms:
- clicking/popping of the jaw
- facial pain
- pain around the ear
- pain or discomfort with chewing
- locking/catching of the jaw
TMD can be caused by frequent clenching or grinding of teeth, trauma, and poor posture. Poor posture causes the jaw to be pulled posteriorly due to the attachment of muscles surrounding the joint. As a result, this leads to altered teeth contact, changes in joint space, and increased stress on the muscles responsible for chewing. There is research supporting physical therapy as a treatment to improve jaw pain and function.
If you are experiencing symptoms that appear to be related to the temporomandibular joint, schedule an appointment at Breakthru Physical Therapy today for an examination!