Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
The temporomandibular joint is a junction where your jaw connects to your head. TMJ dysfunction can be miserable with pain and weakness in your jaw when you open your mouth to yawn, to take a bite, chewing, and so on.
TMJ dysfunction can be caused due to all sorts of reasons similar to causing dysfunction in other joints in your body. Following are the few reasons.
- Trauma/ fracture in the joint
- Malalignment of the joint
- Poor neck and shoulder posture
- Joint disease like arthritis
- Gums infection
- Poor dental care
- Ear infections
- Pain and swelling in the TMJ
- Pain in the face, neck, and shoulder
- Jaw muscle weakness
- Difficulty closing and opening your mouth
- Ear pain
- Locked jaw
How can physiotherapy help manage TMJ dysfunction?
- Heat therapy: heat therapy can help relieve pain by relaxing jaw muscles and improving joint range of motions. It also improves blood circulation that initiates the repairing process and restores its functions.
- Muscle relaxation exercises: muscle relaxation exercises help the tense muscles around the joint, in the neck and shoulders to relax. It not only helps relieve tensions, but it also helps reduce stress, headache, and improve sleep.
- Stretching exercises: stretching exercises help tone up weak jaw muscles, reduce excessive pulling on the neck and shoulder muscles. Eventually, it helps restore muscle length, muscle strength, and it’s a function to carry out pain-free mouth opening and closing activities.
- Posture correction: TMJ dysfunction involves your head, neck, and shoulders. Poor posture may contribute to TMJ disorders. Posture correction exercises and use of posture braces may help strengthen weak muscles and align your bony structures that has been causing stress and muscle imbalances.
- Jaw movement exercises: gentle massage over the joint and wiggling the side of your jaw to side, up and down may help prevent your jaw from getting locked, thus help restore its movements. Your physiotherapist may help you do the exercises step by step and appropriately.
- Counseling: your physiotherapist may also give counseling on stress management and activity modification to prevent pain and joint stiffness, to avoid aggravating activities such as excessive chewing, chewing hard solid foods, to avoid leaning on the chin or pain side.
TMJ dysfunction may freeze your face with an unpleasant sensation. But physiotherapy can help reduce pain and improve the function of your mouth, as well as the quality of living.