How to treat TMJ dysfunction with a physical therapist’s help

You start to have pain in your jaw, and you think that it’s a toothache at first. However, you come to realize that the pain is actually coming from your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). That’s when you start wondering how to treat TMJ dysfunction. 

This is a scenario that plays out every day, and physical therapists can help you learn more about your condition. They can also help you figure out how to treat TMJ dysfunction effectively and rapidly. 

What is TMJ dysfunction exactly?

The TMJ is a synovial joint, which means it has synovial fluid in it. This fluid is important because it lubricates the TMJ and allows it to move freely. TMJ dysfunction occurs when some part of the joint becomes misaligned, injured or damaged. People with TMJ dysfunction tend to experience symptoms like: 

  • Pain in the TMJ, jaw, around the ear, or even into the neck or head. 
  • Tenderness in the soft tissue surrounding the affected joint. 
  • Difficulty chewing. 
  • Locking of the TMJ. 

Physical therapists can help you figure out how to treat TMJ dysfunction

Not every case of TMJ dysfunction is caused by the same thing. That is one reason why physical therapists take the time to determine the cause of TMJ dysfunction. It is also why their plan for how to treat your TMJ dysfunction may look different from the plan they make for someone else with the same condition. A few of the techniques your physical therapist may include in your TMJ dysfunction treatment plan are: 

  1. Jaw exercises — Your physical therapist can show you a range of helpful stretching and strengthening exercises for your TMJ. They can even help you perform certain exercises if you’re having trouble with them. Why? Done correctly, therapeutic exercises can help reduce your jaw pain and boost TMJ mobility. 
  1. Soft tissue mobilization — Ligaments are a type of soft tissue that help hold your jaw joint in place. There are also muscles that help move your TMJ. This soft tissue can become stiff because of an injury or just plain overuse. Physical therapists can use their hands to ease the stiffness from your jaw soft tissue using a technique called soft tissue mobilization. 

Back in Motion is ready to help you figure out how to treat your TMJ dysfunction

Determining how to treat your TMJ dysfunction can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our Back in Motion Physical Therapy team is ready to help you take the stress out of treating your TMJ issue. We can start by doing a free screening on your jaw intended to reveal the cause of your TMJ dysfunction. From there, our physical therapists can develop a personalized treatment plan for you that’s designed to: 

  • Reduce pain.
  • Improve jaw mobility and flexibility. 
  • Increase your ability to chew. 
  • Decrease your risk of future TMJ problems. 

Contact us today for more information about how we can address TMJ dysfunction or to schedule your initial appointment with us.

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