TMJ vs. TMD
Patients are often told that they have TMJ when complaining of pain in the jaw region however this is misleading because the TMJ is actually the acronym for the Temporomandibular Joint- the joint between the mandible bone (jaw bone) and the temporal bone (skull bone). When one presents with pain in this region, a better term would be temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD).
Symptoms of TMD
Pain in the face, ear, TMJ, Facial muscles and neck can be symptoms of TMD.
Pain may be acute-occurring suddenly, or chronic pain that may have been present for years.
Pain may be constant where the person always feels some pain at any given time or may come and go.
Trismus, the restriction of normal mouth opening, may also be present and can be caused by joint restrictions or muscle tension.
Patients may also notice a deviation of the jaw to one side with opening and closing.
Headaches are a common symptom of TMD.
During your evaluation, the TMJ specialists at Southeastern Physical Therapy will take your history and ask about the causes of pain and other symptoms as well as questions about dental work history. Posture from head to toe is evaluated to have a better understanding of the base in which your jaw sits and facial bone symmetry is assessed. Joint mobility testing of the neck, upper back and TMJs is performed for an understanding of your mechanics and identification of any joint dysfunction. Soft tissues in the head, neck, shoulders and upper back are assessed to determine activity and tenderness/trigger points of muscle tissue. Following your evaluation, you will be given a physical therapy diagnosis and a comprehensive explanation of your therapist’s findings and discuss your plan of care for treatment, including a home exercise program.
Treatment for TMD, Headaches and Neck Pain
Joint mobilization techniques to restore proper joint mechanics of the TMJ/neck/back and ROM.
Dry needling of trigger points within the facial, neck and shoulder muscles to reduce acute and chronic myofascial pain and restore normal jaw and muscle function.
Soft tissue mobilization to improve soft tissue tension and ROM. Self treatment techniques taught so you can manage your symptoms.
Education about proper posture and oral habits, as well as self treatment techniques and exercises for self management.
Facial exercises to decrease the tension in your facial muscles
Postural exercises to promote proper head and spinal alignment
Breathing exercises to restore diaphragmatic breathing and help with relaxation.