Article by John Miller
What is TMJ Dysfunction?
Your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the most used joint in the body. Your TMJs (jaw joints) are involved with eating, talking, breathing and, probably most importantly, expressing our feelings and emotions.
When things go wrong with your TMJ it is known as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).
You may or may not experience jaw pain or tenderness with TMJ dysfunction. The most common symptoms include:
TMD sufferers are often teeth grinders or clenchers. They can also suffer headaches, ear pain dizziness and upper neck pain.
Some TMJ patients report pain or inability to eat, talk or sing. Tinnitus or ear ringing can be associated with TMJ dysfunction. (Vierola et al 2012)
What Causes Temporomandibular Disorder?
TMJ dysfunction is considered a multifaceted musculoskeletal disorder.
Most Common Causes include:
Contributory factors include:
TMJ Dysfunction Classifications
The common presentations of TMJ dysfunction may be classified into three clinical diagnostic groups:
(Dworkin SF, LeResche L., 1992)
How is TMJ Dysfunction Diagnosed?
TMJ dysfunction can be diagnosed by your TMJ physiotherapist, a physiotherapist with advanced training in jaw dysfunction, your dental practitioner or oral maxillofacial surgeon. TMD is a clinical movement dysfunction diagnosis. They may recommend dental X-rays, CT scan or MRI to further investigate your condition.
During your TMJ examination, your Craniofacial or TMJ Physiotherapist will assess your:
Your TMJ Physiotherapist will be able to identify if your problem is an opening issue.
Opening problems include:
TMJ joints that have difficulty closing problems are usually:
What is TMJ Treatment?
After your TMJ assessment your physiotherapist will commence corrective treatment or refer you on to the most relevant health professional suitable for your TMJ condition.
While your TMJ physiotherapist is an expert in the treatment of opening disorders, your dentist is usually involved in the management of closing disorders such as locked jaw and bruxism.
TMJ Treatment & TMJ Exercises
TMJ exercises and treatment may include:
Your specific TMJ exercises will be prescribed following a thorough TMJ assessment.
TMJ Treatment Results
Prognosis is favourable in the vast majority of patients treated conservatively and symptoms may improve without treatment. (Michelotti A, 2010).
Rammelsberg 2003, found that spontaneous resolution occurs in a 33% of TMD sufferers over a 5 year period.
Field 2012, found that with conservative TMJ physiotherapy treatment, 75% of the TMD group resolved their condition within 3 months, which is certainly consistent with my personal clinical results. The vast majority improve within a few weeks of commencing TMJ treatment.
TMJ Dysfunction - What to Avoid?
Until you seek the advice of your TMJ physiotherapist I recommend the following:
Every case of TMJ dysfunction is different. Please check with your Craniofacial or TMJ physiotherapist for their professional opinion. on what treatment plan is best for you.
More info about TMJ Treatment Professionals.
TMJ or Jaw Pain Treatment Options
FAQs about TMJ Dysfunction or Jaw Pain
Potential Causes of TMJ or Jaw Pain
Online Products for TMJ or Jaw Pain
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