5 Exercises for TMJ Relief
TMJ, also known as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder, is a condition that affects the jaw and can be very painful. You know how frustrating it can be if you’ve ever had headaches or earaches due to your jaw clicking or grinding. You might have heard of TMJ as a result of sports injuries or dental work, but it’s something that affects many people all over the world.
If you’re experiencing TMJ symptoms for the first time, we recommend talking to your dentist about getting an exam and diagnosis. We’ll help you figure out if there are any underlying causes of your symptoms so that you can treat them effectively. In this article, you will know which exercises can help you get pain relief.
What is TMJ?
Did you know that one-third of the population experiences TMJ symptoms at any time? TMJ is a mouth disorder that causes the soft tissue in your jaw to become misaligned. The condition can affect one or both sides of your face, and it can cause pain, as well as problems with chewing and yawning. TMJ is a condition that causes your jaw to make popping and cracking sounds when you open and close your mouth. It can happen several times daily but is usually not painful or sore. At Breakthru Physical Therapy, we specialize in helping patients with TMJ and other jaw issues get back into the swing of things. Before you know it, your life will be better than ever!
What are the Symptoms of TMJ?
TMJ syndrome is a painful condition that affects your jaw muscles and joints. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a doctor:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Ear pain
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
- Aching facial pain
- Jaws that “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Swelling on one side of the face
If you think you might have TMJ, talk to your doctor about what else might be happening with your mouth and face and how these things compare with your symptoms.
What are the causes of TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is a complex hinge-and-sliding motion system that combines the movement of the jaw with muscle contraction. The temporomandibular joint is at the base of your skull, connecting your lower jaw to your temporal bones.
Common causes of TMJ include:
- Aging. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop TMD symptoms.
- Osteoarthritis that affects joints and cartilage
- Acute trauma
- An improper bite
- Bruxism (grinding/clenching of the teeth)
How Is TMJ Diagnosed?
A dentist typically diagnoses TMJ during a dental checkup. Your healthcare provider will press on your face and jaw to locate areas of discomfort. They will feel how your jaw joints move as you open and close your mouth, then observe the range at which they can be moved.
There are several other ways to diagnose TMJ disorder, including:
- Panoramic X-Rays: A dental image that shows a broad overview of your teeth and jawbone.
- CT Scans: These scans capture thousands of images of your teeth, jawbone, sinuses, and facial bones.
- MRI: In some cases, an MRI can provide information about the soft tissues around the jaw joints. These images show possible jaw locking and the extent of inflammation.
Proper treatment at Breakthru Physical Therapy can help you manage the condition and improve any pain and discomfort that you may be experiencing.
What are the Treatments for TMJ?
Different treatments for TMJ include:
- Resting your jaw: If you have TMJ, it will probably hurt when you open and close your mouth. This can be painful and uncomfortable, so the best thing to do is rest it! If you have time during the day, try putting ice on your jaw for about 30 minutes every couple of hours until it feels better.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy and exercises can help to strengthen the jaw muscles. The physical therapist also may use ultrasound, moist heat, or ice on your face during treatment.
- Using prescription medications: If prescription painkillers don’t do well enough for you, then talk to your doctor about whether they would be willing to prescribe stronger ones.
- Surgery: Surgery is often the best option for people with severe TMJ disorder symptoms that do not respond to other treatments. However, it’s important for individuals considering this procedure to weigh all options and make informed decisions about their treatment plans.
5 Exercises for TMJ Relief
If you’re looking to relieve your jaw pain due to TMJ, try these five exercises.
- The Tongue Massage: To perform this exercise, place your tongue against the roof of your mouth, stick out your lips slightly (so you can feel the edge of your tongue), and then move them back into place. Do this 5-10 times per day and see how much better you feel!
- The Hand Massage: The second exercise is to perform a hand massage on your face. This will help relax any tension in your jaw muscles while also helping reduce pain from TMJ. To do this exercise, rub your hands together vigorously for about 10 seconds before moving to other areas of your face, such as around the eyes or behind the ears.
- Tongue lift: Open and close your mouth slowly; keep your tongue touching the roof of your mouth. Repeat several times.
- Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening exercises will help strengthen your jaw muscles so they don’t clench during sleep and become irritated by TMJ problems like TMD pain or osteoarthritis inflammation (referred to as “arthritis”).
- Jaw slide side to side: First, gently bite down on two popsicle sticks with your front teeth. Next, slowly move your jaw from side to side while holding the popsicle sticks in place.
Breakthru physical therapists can help treat muscle and joint pro if your pain worsens or doesn’t improve, and they are ideally suited to address TMJ.
Why Choose Breakthru for Physical Therapy to Treat TMJ?
You may experience jaw clicking when you talk, pain in your neck and shoulders from holding your head up, and headaches from grinding your teeth while trying to sleep. If you’re suffering from TMJ pain that’s interfering with your life, Breakthru Physical Therapy may be able to help. Our physical therapists will work with you to find the right treatment plan so you can get back on track with living life without TMJ pain! Contact us today!