TMJ (Jaw) Dysfunction

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TMJ (Jaw) Dysfunction

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint, is located just in front of the ear.  Dysfunction of the joint can present with many symptoms including headaches, neck pain, clicking, reduced mobility of the jaw and pain in the joint with activities such as yawning or chewing. The problem can develop after an injury such as a blow to the head or a motor vehicle accident, or it can develop gradually over time.  Contributing factors may include an injury, abnormal habits (grinding, clenching), emotional distress and underlying joint disease such as arthritis.

What Can I Expect At My First Visit?

One of our skilled therapists will perform a comprehensive assessment, including a thorough history and physical exam in order to determinate the most effective treatment plan.  The physical exam often includes a detailed examination of the cervical spine and an intra-oral (inside the mouth) and extra-oral (outside the mouth) evaluation of the TMJ.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Your therapist will provide you with education on the nature of your injury, healing times, posture, pain management and ways to modify your activity to optimize your recovery.  Manual therapy, the use of the hands, can be very effective in loosening tight muscles and stiff joints in the neck and jaw.  Active rehabilitation is a critical component of the recovery process and may include specific stretching and strengthening exercise and postural exercises.  Additional treatments may include acupuncture, stress management techniques and modalities (ice, ultrasound, TENS).

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Learn more about TMD on our TMD blog post!

For further information, visit our learning centre or the American Academy of Orofacial Pain at https://www.aaop.org.