Are you having jaw or face pain when chewing, opening your mouth or even at rest? What about painful jaw clicking, popping or locking? These symptoms could be due to your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). This flexible joint is located just in front of your ear and is primarily responsible for daily activities such as eating, yawning, talking, and can even be active at night with excess grinding or clenching of the teeth while sleeping. Aggravation of this joint is often felt as jaw pain but can be associated with symptoms of headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), dizziness (vertigo), or even neck and upper back pain. This could be caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall or motor vehicle accident, posture or overexertion of the muscles supporting the TMJ.
A Physical Therapist (PT) can help to determine the cause of the pain as there are often influencing factors that affect the functionality of the TMJ from mobility of the cervical and thoracic spine, poor posture and muscular imbalances. A PT can provide great strategies to improve your environment (i.e. work set up, sleep hygiene), optimize behaviors to decrease pain and disability (i.e. oral habits, breathing techniques), and restore the muscular balance and function of the TMJ.
There is great research supporting that education and understanding this disorder from a provider, like a Physical Therapist, can lead to more favorable outcomes, less pain, and less disability. At the discretion of your therapist, addition of appropriate therapeutic exercises, modalities, and manual techniques can help to maximize outcomes even more. Schedule an appointment today to see how Physical Therapy can help you.