Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is a common condition that limits the natural functions of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing. It currently affects more than 10 million people in the United States. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as simply “TMJ,” which represents the name of the joint itself. TMD affects more women than men and is most often diagnosed in individuals aged 20 to 40 years. It causes a range of problems from poor posture, chronic jaw clenching, and poor teeth alignment, to fracture or conditions such as lockjaw, where the muscles around the jaw spasm and reduce the ability of the mouth to open.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain could be exacerbated by:
- Stress or physical exertion
- Bruxism: habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Working conditions including prolonged sitting and extensive telephone use
- Improper support while sleeping causing mal-alignment on TMJ
- Eating chewy or crunchy foods
Physical therapists can help patients with these symptoms ease pain, regain normal jaw movement, and lessen daily stress on the jaw. The focus of physical therapy for temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) is relaxation, stretching, and releasing tight muscles and scar tissue. Physical therapy is an especially important part of recovery from TM joint surgery, as it helps minimize scar tissue formation and muscle tightness.
A physical therapy evaluation will likely evaluate how your cervical spine—the upper portion of your spine, situated in your neck—moves. In addition, your physical therapist will examine your TMJ to find out how well it functions and whether there are any abnormalities in your jaw motion.
Treatment may include:
- Joint Stabilization
- Alignment of Spinal Column
- Decreasing Muscle Tightness in the Chewing Muscles
- Strengthening to facilitate Smooth Jaw Motion
Patrick Jones, DPT specializes in treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder and helps patients alleviate their jaw pain. New patients can be scheduled within 24-48 hours. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at 717-735-8880.