Temporomandibular Joint(TMJ)

November 1, 2016

What is TMJ?

The TMJ is the Temporomandibular Joint. These two joints, that connect your jaw to your skull, are involved in eating, talking and breathing. They are one of the most used joints in our bodies. Like other joints, things can go wrong (injury, over use) that can cause pain and dysfunction. This is syndrome  known as TMD, Temporomandibular Disorder.

The most common symptoms patients report are; popping, clicking, grinding (at night while sleeping) and limited movement. They may also report head ache, ear pain, dizziness, and upper neck pain. The good news is that this problem, (when properly diagnosed and with coordinated effort between  you, your dentist, and the physiotherapist) is treatable, and often has positive outcomes. Research has shown the benefits of physiotherapy in treating TMD.

According to a recent study in the Int Journal Oral Maxillofac Implants Nov/Dec 2013, by Murphy, MacBarb, Wong, and Athanasiou titled TJM: A Review of Etiology, Clinical Management and Tissue Engineering Strategies;  “manual therapies designed to increase mobility and reduce pain have shown promise and are often used in conjunction with exercise techniques. Such techniques work to strengthen and improve mobility in the masticatory and cervical spine muscles. Futhermore, these techniques offer the potential to ‘re-teach’ and rehabilitate the musculature. This observation is especially noted in patients exhibiting stress-related habits. Along with exercise techniques, postural exercises may aid in alignment of the craniomandibular system. Intended to relieve pain associated with TMD and improve range of motion, physical therapy treatment plans must be patient specific, and may involve a combination of modalities.”

What do we do here at The Village Physio to treat TMD?

First and foremost we assess you to determine the possible cause(s) and contributing factors to your problem. We then develop and apply the appropriate treatment plan specifically for you. These treatments may include manual therapy; myofascial release (MFR) of the jaw head and neck, and joint mobilisation to the TMJ. Also development and instruction of a Home Exercise program (HEP) will be given. This could include: gentle stretching, strengthening, and stability exercises. This empowers you to take charge of your wellness, and care for yourself, and prevent future problems.

Research shows that with “conservative TMJ physiotherapy treatment, 75% of the TMD group resolved their condition within 3 months, and the vast majority improve within a few weeks of commencing TMJ treatment.” (Field 2012) These results correspond with my over twenty five years experience of treating this problem.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 5309-6798, or discuss this with your dentist, or GP.