Temporomandibular joint dysfunction—more commonly known as TMJ dysfunction or TMD—is an uncomfortable and often painful jaw disorder that affects over 10 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Though TMJ and TMD are sometimes used interchangeably, TMJ refers to the joint itself while TMD refers to a group of conditions that affect the jaw. TMJs, located on each side of the face where your jawbone meets your skull, allow mobility for speaking, biting, chewing, and other crucial functions.
If you’re ever stressed and notice you are clenching your teeth, if you wake up with headaches with or without jaw pain, or if you ever notice that your jaw clicks when opened widely, you may be exhibiting symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. Though there are times when surgery is appropriate, that option is always a last resort. Often, physical therapy can improve your function, alleviate your symptoms, and help you avoid surgery altogether.
For more information about TMJ dysfunction or manual physical therapy treatments for jaw pain, contact OMT Specialists online or call (240) 454-3806 today!
What Are the Causes of TMD & Jaw Pain?
Here are some of the most common causes of TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain:
- Trauma – A blow to your jaw—due to a car accident or sports injury, for example—or even a simple strain can lead to pain and dysfunction.
- Improper occlusion – If your bite is misaligned and your teeth do not fit together properly, this can cause microtrauma to surrounding joints (including your neck, throat, upper back, etc.).
- Muscle hyperactivity – Any condition that prevents bones, joints, and muscles from working together properly—such as arthritis or fibromyalgia—can contribute to TMD.
- Posture – Poor posture places unnecessary strain on all joints and can even manifest itself in symptoms that are potentially as damaging as an injury.
- Stress – Both physical and emotional stress can have a negative impact on patients with TMD. Clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism) due to stress not only damages teeth, but it also strains the jaw joints and exacerbates TMD symptoms.
Since the causes and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can range from gradual and subtle to sudden and obvious, it’s important to consult an expert who can pinpoint exactly what kind of treatment you need. Managing your pain may be a temporary fix for this discomfort, but manual physical therapy can lead to long-lasting healing.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD & Jaw Pain?
Some of the most common symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain include:
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint
- Inability to open your mouth comfortably
- Locking jaw when you attempt to open your mouth
- Uncomfortable bite
- Chronic headaches
- Dizziness and vision problems
- Facial pain
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Ringing in the ears, ear pain, or decreased hearing
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact OMT Specialists online or call us at (240) 454-3806 to plan the ideal course of physical therapy treatments for you.
Schedule Physical Therapy for TMD & Jaw Pain in MD, DC & Northern VA
At OMT Specialists, we believe that manual physical therapy is an avenue to healing. With our hands-on, one-on-one approach to physical therapy, we guarantee that you will achieve a level of comfort that you may have never experienced in your life. Due to the fact that we believe that our patients are a whole person—not just a diagnosis or a body part to fix—we offer customized, personalized treatment plans to help you along your journey to recovery.
Our physical therapists work based off of the notion that all of the parts of the body are connected; healing isn’t about targeting one body part, but rather making sure all of the parts are working together as seamlessly as possible. This holistic approach to physical therapy enables you to create a plan that’s tailor-made for your needs and goals. Not only will we help you alleviate your TMJ dysfunction symptoms and jaw pain, but we will also make sure your whole body is in the healthiest shape it can be.
To discover how it feels to have relief from your TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain, contact us online or call (240) 454-3806 to schedule an appointment with a manual physical therapist at OMT Specialists today!