The American Academy of Orofacial Pain has classified tempromandibular disorder (TMD) as a collection of symptoms that involve the tempromandibular joint (TMJ), or “jaw,” and surrounding structures (facial muscles, ligaments, teeth, ears, neck, etc.).
What is it?
Temporomandibular disorder, known as TMD, reflects a cycle of pain, muscle spasms, and joint imbalance where the jaw meets the skull. The lower jaw meets the skull at the temporomandibular joint, known as the TMJ. This joint connects the temporal bone of the skull with the mandible bone of the jaw. Cushioning these two bones is a thin disc of cartilage. Five muscles support the joint together.
Some common symptoms include:
- TMJ pain (pain in the joint)
- “Jaw” pain
- A dull aching pain around the ear that may spread into the face and/or forehead
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Joint sounds (popping, clicking, or grinding)
- Sore or painful jaw muscles
- Limited mandibular motion (limited mouth opening/closing or sideward movements)
- Neck pain
Who’s At Risk?
Both females and males are seen with symptoms. The ages range anywhere from 10-86 years. The cycle of pain, spasms, and joint imbalance can be started by clenching or grinding the teeth, arthritis, emotional stress, a blow to the joint, or malocclusion (or impaired alignment of teeth/bite).
Our physical therapists provide a comprehensive management approach based on the latest research evidence. Our treatment program includes spinal mobilization and manipulation to the upper back and neck, soft tissue mobilization/massage top facial and jaw muscles, specific soft tissue techniques, trigger point dry needling, postural correction exercises, and biofeedback and targeted exercises designed to prevent the recurrence of the symptoms.
Breaking the cycle
Clenching and grinding will often reduced once a person’s stress is reduced. Other self treatment options that you can start right away include:
1. Moist heat
2. A soft diet
3. Self muscle massage
4. Inflammation-reducing drugs or muscle relaxants (if prescribed by physician) for severe cases