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Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is located in your jaw and is perhaps one of the most utilized joints in the body. It is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ear. It guides jaw movement and allows you to open and close your mouth, and move it from side to side when yawning, or chewing.

Talking and eating cause a lot of stress on the TMJ, and as a result, it can be a source of pain for many. TMJ dysfunction is a common condition that limits the function of the jaw and can cause pain. People that have TMJ dysfunction often complain of headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, stiffness, decreased ability to open or close the mouth, or having to alter their diet due to inability to eat foods of a certain consistency or size.

TMJ Dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Problems with teeth alignment (“malocclusion”)
  • Chronic jaw clenching (“bruxism”)
  • Bas posture habits
  • Fracture
  • Surgery
  • Trismus (“lockjaw”)
  • Displacement of disc or soft-tissue
  • Arthritis

Many people think that this is an area of the body that is only treated by a dentist. What most people do not know, is that physical therapy can help with TMJ dysfunction. Physical therapists can help patients by reducing joint pain, improving mobility of the jaw, decreasing headaches, and improving posture.

How Physical Therapy Can Help TMJ Dysfunction

Physical therapists are highly skilled healthcare professionals that specialize in the way that muscles, bones, and other tissues interact. The joints in your mouth are no different! After a thorough, one-on-one initial examination, a physical therapist will utilize many skills to help with TMJ dysfunction.

Specialized treatments include:

  • Manual therapy to improve mobility of the jaw and to decrease pain.
  • Therapeutic exercises to improve strength and range of motion to reduce stress on the TMJ.
  • Postural and stabilization training
  • Patient education and home exercise instruction
  • Ergonomic advice in terms of work station set up and stress reduction techniques

If you are experiencing jaw pain, talk to your doctor or dentist. An examination may be necessary to confirm a TMJ Dysfunction diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, you can begin treatment with your physical therapist to determine the cause of pain to quickly and safely get back to your normal activities. Contact us to learn more.


TMJ Dysfunction Patient Reviews:

 “I would recommend Excel to anyone with TMJ who doesn’t want to go the medication/ mouth guard route. I’m so glad I found Excel and can now live a pain free life!!” K. Cox

“When I first started coming here, I could hardly open my jaw and was only drinking smoothies because of how badly it hurt. Now I am back to my old diet with no pain. I never thought it could get this better this quickly.” Sarah O.