Did you know that your jaw is the most used joint in your whole body? It is, and it’s called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This joint connects your jaw to your skull — with the help of several ligaments, muscles and an articular disc. What could go wrong, right? The short answer, a lot.
When things go wrong, it’s called TMJ disorder or dysfunction. This can occur for many reasons, including stress, muscle spasm, head posture, clenching your teeth or the displacement of the articular disc.
Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction
Wondering if you have a run-of-the-mill headache or if TMJ dysfunction is the culprit? Here are some symptoms commonly associated with TMJ dysfunction:
- Headaches that are localized to one side of your face.
- Jaw tightness.
- Ear pain.
If you are not sure if you have TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with a TMJ specialist. They will perform a series of evaluations to determine if your pain is caused by TMJ dysfunction. This clinical examination may include:
1. Palpating (touching) your jaw joint or muscles to check for tenderness and clicking when you open and close your mouth.
2. Evaluating your jaw’s range of motion to determine if you open and close your mouth evenly.
3. Sometimes, an X-ray is used to determine if arthritis is present within your joint.
How a TMJ specialist can help you
Once a TMJ specialist determines the cause of your pain, they will customize a treatment plan for you. Your specialist may utilize the following therapies within your treatment plan:
1. Postural instruction — Your specialist may give you specific instructions related to the posture of your head and shoulders to help reduce your pain.
2. Therapeutic exercises — These are specific exercises that your specialist will teach you how to do to help increase your strength and meet your goals.
3. Manual therapy — Manual therapy may be incorporated to relax muscles and improve circulation.
Don’t live in pain any longer. Find a TMJ specialist at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation to begin your treatment. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.