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TMJ – Here’s the jaw-dropping scoop
YOU have TMJ, YOU have TMJ, EVERYONE has TMJ! Commonly misunderstood as a diagnoses for jaw pain, the abbreviation “TMJ” actually stands for TemporoMandibular Joint, which is where the temple and the mandible meet to form your jaw joint. When it becomes dysfunctional, it is appropriately termed TMJD (TemporoMandibular Joint Dysfunction) or just TMD (TemporoMandibular Dysfunction).
There can be many causes of TMJD such as poor posture, oral surgeries, bruxism (grinding teeth or jaw clenching at night), stress, or trauma. Any of these factors can cause abnormal stresses to the muscles that connect to the joint, causing it to become dysfunctional and/or painful. TMJD can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing some foods.
But wait—there’s good news! Physical therapists are trained on the anatomy and treatment of TMJD! How can a PT help?
• Postural correction
• Soft tissue massage to muscles that have become tight around the joint
• Joint mobilization to increase the mobility of the jaw
• Education of positions and foods to avoid
• Exercises to stretch muscles around the joint
• Exercises to allow better jaw relaxation
• Potential recommendation for mouth guard
Through a thorough evaluation, physical therapists can determine what factors are contributing to the dysfunctional joint, which will in turn guide a treatment program that will improve the function and mobility of the joint. And this, of course, will lead to improved quality of life. At Elite, our (j)awesome therapists always strive to make quality of life a top priority, so CHEWs us for all of your physical therapy needs!