What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
The jaw joint itself is where the mandible ‘the jaw bone’ meets with its’ socket in the side of the skull. This joint is named the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). The joint is surrounded by a group of muscles called the muscles of mastication which allow the jaw to open and close as well as a small degree of sideways movement so that we can eat, talk, smile etc.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
TMDs are a collection of disorders affecting the jaw joint and associated muscles. They can affect anybody at any age.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain in the temples, jaw, teeth, cheeks and ear.
- A clicking or popping sound with movement of the jaw.
- Difficulty opening the mouth fully.
- Headaches affecting the temples.
- Locking of the jaw.
- A sensation of teeth not ‘fitting together properly’ when biting.
- Difficulty eating and/or talking.
- Disturbed sleep.
What are the causes of TMD?
Reasons for experiencing TMD in the first place can vary. There is a high association with stress as well as teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism) of the jaw during the day or whilst you are asleep (which we are not always aware of). There can also be a link with your posture which can affect the general position of your neck and jaw adding extra strain to the joints and muscles. Other causes of TMD include trauma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypermobility syndrome and hereditary bone formation issues and an uneven bite.
Did you know that this can be treated successfully with physiotherapy?
It is sadly a misconception that this is something that we have to endure and cannot be treated. Specialist chartered physiotherapists can treat this condition with a variety of treatment techniques.
Your TMD physiotherapist will assess you by asking some simple questions about the nature of the problem. They will then assess your posture, jaw alignment and the movements of your jaw and neck to diagnose the type of disorder you are suffering from. Physiotherapy treatment options include manual therapy, joint mobilisations of the neck and jaw, acupuncture, posture correction as well as simple jaw and neck movements that can be carried out at home.
If you feel you are affected by any of the symptoms above then you can contact East Cork Physiotherapy, Balance & Acupuncture Clinic and speak to one of our TMD Chartered Physiotherapists.