TMJ_1The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), commonly referred to as the jaw, is a complex joint because it moves up and down, side to side, and also glides forward and backward. Any injury or problem that prevents the muscles and bones surrounding the TMJ from working together may result in Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). These problems can result in pain when you talk, chew, swallow or yawn. The most common cause is tension in jaw muscles, such as from clenching the jaw or grinding teeth. Another cause is internal derangement of the joint.

Symptoms of TMJ/TMD include:

  • Myofascial pain
  • Headache
  • Pain in the jaw, behind the eyes, or in the face and neck
  • Earaches
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Reduced mobility of the mouth

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery for TMJ/TMD pain. Physical therapy for these disorders involves relaxation, stretching and releasing tight muscles and scar tissue. Physical therapy is effective in decreasing pain and discomfort.

Physical therapy techniques for TMJ/TMD include:

  • Jaw exercises to strengthen, improve flexibility and range of motion
  • Heat to increase blood circulation
  • Ice to decrease swelling and pain
  • Massage to decrease overall muscle tension
  • Postural stability to correct posture and jaw alignment
  • Electrical stimulation (TENS)
  • Joint mobilization of the TMJ to decrease scar tissue
  • Ultrasound to decrease pain and swelling

At Excel Physical Therapy, we will evaluate the causes of your TMJ/TMD symptoms and design an individualized comprehensive rehabilitation program to help you overcome your TMJ pain.