What is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on each side of the cranium in front of the ear on either side of the head where the upper and lower jaws meet. The abbreviation ‘TMJ’ refers to the name of the actual joint however the term TMJ is often used to mean any disorders or symptoms of the region. The TMJ are among some of the most frequently used joints in the body. A person will use both of the temporomandibular joints throughout the day and night for things such as talking, yawning, eating and chewing.

To feel your TMJ, place your fingers in front of each ear and open your mouth, you will begin to feel the joint move as your mouth opens. Physical therapy should be more readily considered as a treatment option. The muscles in the region of your neck & jaw are closely connected to the musculature surrounding the neck & shoulders. Weakness or dysfunction in the neck and shoulder muscles can disrupt the muscle balances surrounding the jaw. This is one of the many causes of TMJ problems & easily treated by our physical therapy team. TMJ and jaw pain treatment may include addressing the posture and muscle balance of the head, neck and shoulders. These muscles are used frequently & as a result, untreated TMJ dysfunction can potentially progress from a mild problem to a severe & debilitating condition.

It is important to get your jaw pain treatment and not to let your TMJ symptoms progress.  Someone with TMJ symptoms can have difficulty talking, chewing, yawning, sneezing, and swallowing, however if the problem is left untreated the symptoms can get worse. TMJ symptoms can progress to include headaches, ear pain, bite problems, clicking sounds, and locked jaw.

TMJ Dysfunction Causes

Over 50% of the population suffers from some form of TMJ dysfunction. For more statistics and causes of TMJ, click here: Jaw Pain in Sarasota

There are many TMJ dysfunction causes such as: resting the head in the hand, arthritis, whiplash, head forward posture, teeth grinding, gum chewing, nail biting, dental problems including a poor bite/missing teeth & trauma to the joint (blow to the head or jaw). Everyday work related activities such as holding a telephone between the head & shoulder or being hunched over the computer can contribute to muscle imbalances in the head, neck, shoulders and upper trunk.  These everyday activities can also be a cause of TMJ dysfunction.

Normally, TMJ motion is smooth and coordinated, allowing the jaw to move in several directions including sideways, back and forth, and open / close. When the muscles of the head, neck, shoulders & upper trunk become unbalanced the movement of the jaw becomes unbalanced. This can lead to a number of TMJ related symptoms including jaw &/or facial pain, tooth sensitivity, clicking & popping upon attempted opening & closing of the mouth, decreased ability to open the jaw, neck pain, forehead or temple headaches, dry/burning sensation of the mouth, and buzzing/ringing of the ears. Stress can be a significant contributing factor for those with TMJ dysfunction.

Jaw Pain Treatment & Physical Therapy

A dentist can evaluate TMJ problems and may recommend a dental appliance or dental work. However, if TMJ dysfunction is associated with headache or pain in the jaw, neck or shoulders, ask for a referral to Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy. Our clinical rehab manager David Griffith, MPT has extensive training in jaw pain treatment and TMJ dysfunction.

Our Physical Therapist will assess the TMJ & check the strength, movement & tension in the surrounding muscles. Our physical therapy evaluation will serve as the groundwork for the jaw pain treatment including a customized and individualized TMJ exercise program to address muscle imbalances as well as posture. Strength, flexibility & relaxation methods given to you by Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy will aid in decreasing your pain & improving your ability to use the jaw. Jaw pain treatments such as active isolated stretching, self-awareness & relaxation techniques can be helpful. Limiting your intake of crunchy &/or chewy foods can help with pain reduction. Part of your jaw pain treatment as prescribed by our Physical Therapist may include massage therapy to help with the relaxation of the head, neck, upper trunk and shoulder musculature. When the massage therapy is prescribed by our physical therapist, it is often a covered item through most health insurance plans. Jaw pain treatment at Back in Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy may include the ML830 Laser Therapy Program  which is a revolutionary FDA approved treatment which has dramatic healing benefits for those with TMJ symptoms.

Do not delay in getting jaw pain treatment for signs and symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction. Untreated TMJ dysfunction can result in concentration problems, difficulty with chewing which can contribute to poor nutrition, disrupted sleep & even anxiety/depression. If you have the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, call Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy today at (941)925-2700 to initiate your jaw pain treatment. There is hope, Physical Therapy can help. We are the experts in Sarasota Florida on jaw pain treatment with fast acting techniques and revolutionary state of the art equipment.

About the Author Tim Burnell, PT

Tim Burnell is the Lead Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota. He has over two decades of clinical experience. He takes pride in getting to the root of the problem which helps get his clients better...Faster! He is a family man & enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Monique. He has 2 children & a dog named Annie. Tim's son, Andre' is 11 years old and his daughter Joliebelle (nicknamed Pooky) is 7 years old. He enjoys visiting his wife's side of the family in New Orleans and his side of the family in Vermont. Tim grew up in Vermont, went to Physical Therapy School in Alabama, got his first job at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans and moved to Sarasota Florida after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

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