The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a commonly dysfunctional joint that is often ignored until its dysfunction is accompanied by pain. Not only is it one of the most frequently used joints in the body, it has been reported that 50-75% of the population has signs of TMJ dysfunction (TMD). This population is mostly middle-aged adults, with women being 2-3 times more common than males.
Typical signs of TMD include asymmetrical opening and closing of the jaw, clicking or popping, pain or tenderness with chewing, locking of the jaw in different positions of opening or closing, headaches, and muscle soreness of the face, neck, and shoulders.
TMD can be caused by an array of issues from acute physical injury (getting punched in the jaw), to poor sleep habits (grinding or clenching teeth), to long-term poor postural relationships, or abnormal opening and closing mechanics causing arthritic changes to the joint structure. Whatever your mechanism of injury is, if symptoms are not treated, it can ultimately decrease quality of life by causing pain and difficulty with daily activities such as talking, eating, sleeping, and sharing intimate relationships.
Functional manual physical therapy is a very effective and noninvasive treatment for patients suffering from TMD. Our team at JGPT is skilled in identifying pathology using a multidisciplinary approach with focus of treatments on pain and dysfunction. When treating TMD, we understand the need to address impairments in neighboring joints such as the upper cervical spine and surrounding musculature. Studies have shown an increase in active jaw opening with upper cervical spine manipulation or soft tissue treatments of the suboccipital muscles.
Stop massaging the side of your jaw after a morning yawn and stop thinking the clicking and occasional jaw pain experienced when biting into your apple is normal. We know from experience that it is not, and if not addressed, will become painful and crippling to your daily life habits. Call us and schedule an appointment today!