Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the most used joint in the body which is involved with eating, talking, and probably most importantly, expressing our feelings and emotions. When things go wrong with your TMJ it is known as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). You may or may not experience jaw pain or tenderness with TMJ dysfunction. The most common symptoms include clicking, popping, grinding, limited opening or an inability to fully clench your jaw. They can also suffer headaches, ear pain dizziness and upper neck pain. Tinnitus or ear ringing can be associated with TMJ dysfunction. Most Common Causes include Masticatory muscle dysfunction, Derangement/displacement of TMJ articular disc, Bruxism (nocturnal grinding of teeth leads to increased pressure in TMJ and asymmetrical movement). Contributory factors include mandibular malalignment, removal of wisdom teeth, prolonged mouth opening eg dental procedure, poor cervical posture, myofascial pain, stress and whiplash and other less common causes include: trauma (e.g., blow to the chin), infection, polyarthritic conditions, tumors, and anatomical abnormalities. TMJ dysfunction can be diagnosed by physiotherapist with training in jaw dysfunction. After the TMJ assessment physiotherapist will commence corrective treatment or refer you on to the most relevant health professional suitable for your TMJ condition. TMJ exercises and treatment may include:
- Posture improvement and neck treatment
- Relaxation exercises
- Muscle lengthening or massage
- Joint mobilization
- TMJ movement pattern and timing correction
- Passive, active-assisted, active exercises
- TMJ stabilization exercises.