The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is the hinge joint in the jaw that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone that is found in the skull. The different muscles around the joint allow the jaw to move, enabling the functions of chewing, talking, and yawning. TMJ disorder is very common. About 10 million people in the United States are diagnosed with it each year, and the vast majority of these cases are women.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the jaw or neck region
- Restricted movement of the jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds
- Chewing difficulty
- Fatigue in the jaw
- Ear/Hearing complaints
Dentists and physicians treat TMJ dysfunction with a number of methods. Many professionals advise a physical therapy program as a first option. The main goal of physical therapy when treating TMJ syndromes, is to alleviate pain and uncomfortable symptoms by decreasing muscle irritability and inflammation in the jaw area, and to restore ideal movement to the joint.
Western Berks Physical Therapy & Wellness Center can design a program that includes modalities for pain management, and manual techniques for stretching and strengthening to normalize joint movement. Longer term improvements would include modifying behaviors that exacerbate symptoms and instruction on better sleeping, standing, and sitting positioning. With good self-care and physical therapy, relief can be achieved, which leads to a more comfortable, pain-free lifestyle.