TMJ - Jaw Pain
Article by John Miller
Temporomandibular Joint Pain
Also known as: TMJ Dysfunction (TMD)
TMJ dysfunction is an intermittent or chronic musculoskeletal disorder of your jaw motion. In particular, TMD is the abnormal motion of your TMJ - temporomandibular joint.
TMJ disorder most commonly results in orofacial or jaw pain, jaw headache or a clicking jaw. If your jaw clicks, locks open or closed, grates (crepitus) or is painful you almost certainly have a TMJ disorder.
Health professionals who can assist your TMJ dysfunction or jaw pain include your Dentist, Orthodontist, Dental Prosthetist, Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon, and TMJ Physiotherapist.
What are the Health Professional Strengths?
As a general rule your TMJ health professionals will focus on the following:
- Review you bite and may prescribe a bite plate to assist jaw occlusion (closing) over a period of weeks or months.
- Review you bite and may prescribe a teeth alignment techniques eg braces to assist jaw occlusion (closing). Period: months to years.
- False teeth only
- Review you bite and may prescribe or modify your denture to assist jaw occlusion (closing) over a period of weeks or months.
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Review your TMJ and may offer surgical correction to assist jaw function over a period of weeks or months.
- Patients tend to be acute trauma patients eg broken jaw or chronic TMJ sufferers.
- TMJ physiotherapists have special training in TMJ motion and its correction.
- Review your TMJ motion:
- Increase jaw mobility where stiffness exists.
- Relax hypertonic muscles.
- Dynamically control excessive motion where hypermobility exists.
- Normalise TMJ motion via specific exercises where abnormal movement patterns exist.
- Analyse and correct the influence of your neck posture and motion on your TMJ function.
- Period: weeks to months. Researchers have found that 75% of conservatively managed TMJ treatment will succeed within 3 months. Another study found that 33% will spontaneously recover over a period of 5 years.
TMJ physiotherapists have additional training and professional skills in the assessment and management of TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain. PhysioWorks has several physiotherapists with a special interest in TMJ dysfunction.
Please contact your nearest clinic to determine the best TMJ physiotherapist for you.
Common Sources of TMJ Dysfunction or Jaw Pain
TMJ or jaw pain can occur as a result of various multi-factorial reasons. Having said that, most TMJ dysfunction resulting in jaw pain or clicking jaw results from two main causes: jaw opening or closing.
TMJ Dysfunction - Abnormal Opening
Most TMJ dysfunction that occurs results in an inability to open your jaw normally, fully and evenly (left vs right). Luckily nearly all opening dysfunctions respond extremely quickly and favourably to physiotherapy assessment and intervention since teeth occlusion is not an issue.
TMJ Dysfunction - Abnormal Closing
Closing dysfunction can be due to both a teeth occlusion and an inability of the TMJ to close normally. If the problem is simply a stiff joint or poor muscle timing then physiotherapy treatment will be very successful. However, if teeth occlusion issues are discovered, then you will be referred to a dental surgeon for a bite occlusion assessment.
More Potential Causes of TMJ or Jaw Pain
How Quickly Does Physiotherapy Relieve TMJ Dysfunction?
The good news is that your TMJ physiotherapist will start treating your TMJ dysfunction, muscle tightness or coordination issue that same day as they assess you. If your TMJ dysfunction is one of the categories that physiotherapy assists, you'll usually leave the clinic with very significant improvement or full resolution after your very first treatment consultation.
Alternatively, if we assess you and discover that your TMJ dysfunction will not respond to physiotherapy, we'll happily refer you to the most appropriate health professional to assist you achieve the quickest result.
If you've suffered TMJ dysfunction, jaw pain, clicking jaw, jaw locking, jaw headache or grating and it hasn't improved with other TMJ treatment options, please call PhysioWorks today and ask for an appointment with one of our TMJ physiotherapists.
What is Normal TMJ Movement?
TMJ Motion (827 KB)
After a thorough examination from a physiotherapist trained in TMJ dysfunction, you will commonly be treated with an individualised treatment program that may include:
Common TMJ or Jaw Pain Treatment Options
FAQs about TMJ or Jaw Pain
Buy Helpful Products for TMJ or Jaw Pain
Share this page
Receive Special Offers and the Latest Injury Information
Enter Details Below to Signup: