Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome Physiotherapist in downtown Toronto
Temporomandibular joint syndrome is also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction or temporomandibular joint disorder and can be abbreviated into TMJS. All of these terms cover pain and dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
The TMJ is commonly known as the jaw. This joint is made up of the lower jaw (mandible) and the temporal bone of the skull. The movement of this joint is referred to as a hinge joint made up of muscles, ligaments and tendons, which allow you to talk, chew and yawn. If this joint is injured, it leads to pain or inability to talk or chew as well as other symptoms addressed below.
Causes of TMJ Syndrome:
Injury to the TMJ can be caused by a blow to the head or neck, or whiplash which can result in symptoms relating to TMJ disorders. Grinding and clenching of the teeth is another common cause of TMJ syndrome because this put huge amounts of pressure onto the joint. Stress causes pain at the joint because a person tends to tighten facial and jaw muscles, which also puts pressure on the joint. Other causes of TMJ syndrome include dislocation of the joint, arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, excessive gum chewing, and poor posture.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome:
- Pain in the jaw and around the joint
- Popping and clicking of the jaw
- Locking or dislocation of the jaw
- Ear pain and/or ringing in the ears
- Sore jaw or neck muscles
- Not able to open mouth all the way
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite
Treatment of Jaw TMJ Syndrome:
Conservative treatments for TMJ syndrome include icing or heating the joint and using anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants to decrease pain and swelling of the joint. Eating soft foods and avoid excessive chewing, like chewing gum are usually recommended.
Physiotherapy is often used in patients suffering from TMJ disorders.
Physiotherapists work with you to:
- Increase the range of motion of the jaw movements by prescribing regular stretching exercises.
- Strengthen the correct muscles around the jaw with physiotherapy exercises
- Massage and manually release tight muscles or joints
- Use modailities such as ultrasound, cold laser, or acupuncture to help heal the jaw
In severe cases, conservative treatments may not work and jaw surgery or dental surgery may be required to treat TMJ syndrome.