Are you suffering from headaches, jaw pain, ear pain, or constant earaches? It could be your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and if you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort you could have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Here at Physical Therapy Specialists, one of our top rated Orange County TMJ Specialists can check for a variety of symptoms and provide you with the best TMD treatment options.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short, is the hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When you open and close your mouth, the joint slides with the help of a disk that is located within the joint. Muscles of the jaw allow the joints to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back. TMJ dysfunction includes any condition that causes pain or limits motion of the jaw. This joint is involved in all actions of the mouth, including chewing and talking. Temporomandibular joint problems can cause pain during eating and sometimes even during talking.
TMJ symptoms we treat:
TMD affects people differently with a variety of manifestations. Many sufferers end up seeing multiple doctors for various symptoms before realizing that they all originate from the TMJ. Symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness around jaw, cheeks, ears, and neck
- Headaches or migraines
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Popping, grating, or clicking jaw
- Inability to open jaw completely, locking jaws
- Painful chewing
- Tired feeling in the face
- Change of facial expression
- A change in how your lower and upper teeth fit together, e.g. can’t make one side of bite meet the other
- Tinnitus or “ringing” in the ears
What causes TMD?
There is no one cause of TMD. Anything that causes tension in the jaw and temporal muscles or a CR/CO discrepancy can lead to problems with the TMJ. There are often multiple factors that coincide to cause the disorder and pain. These could be:
- Injury to the jaw or neck (e.g. hit in the face or whiplash): This is one of the most frequent causes of sudden onset of severe pain
- Poor posture including head, neck, and shoulders.
- Grinding or clenching your teeth (also called bruxism)
- Sleep-disordered breathing occurring when your airway collapses while you’re asleep blocking your breathing, people instinctively clamp down the lower jaw or thrust it forward in an in an attempt to open the airway
- Arthritis: Arthritis can occur in any joint, including the TMJ
- Dislocation or erosion of the joint
- Improper bite alignment
Stress is often considered a cause of TMD. However, in my experience, I have seen stress as exacerbating a condition that already exists.
Combining cutting-edge technology with Physical Therapy
Identifying the factors responsible for the development of a TMJ disorder is the primary goal of our initial evaluation. Our physical therapists will help you learn to care for your jaw through improved posture, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, use of heat or cold, and the retraining of jaw movements. At PTS, we use a variety of techniques to treat TMJ including cold laser technology, gentle soft tissue and joint mobilization techniques that directly manipulate the muscles of the jaw, TENS (electrical stimulation), postural alignment, corrective exercises, and spinal mobilization. If you are suffering from Jaw Pain and believe you have TMJ/TMD disorder call our Orange County physical therapy clinic at 714-528-9400 today for a free screening.