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Do you have trouble eating? Does it hurt to yawn? Do you have jaw pain or discomfort that you cannot seem to get rid of? When you open or close your mouth, do you hear a click? If this is the case, you may have TMJ, or “temporomandibular joint disorder.”

The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull. TMJ is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the jaw joint and the muscles that surround it. If the joint is damaged, TMJ dysfunction can occur.

Common Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

TMJ dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which are tooth misalignment, gum chewing, arthritis, teeth grinding, or jaw injury.

There is no exact way to diagnose TMJ dysfunction, but our physical therapists will examine your medical history and conduct tests if you think you might be dealing with this disorder.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Headaches

  • Sore jaw muscles

  • Lockjaw

  • Pain in the temples

  • Earaches

  • Jaw pain

  • Pain when eating or chewing

  • Jaw popping

Any other medical conditions should be ruled out before diagnosing TMJ, as symptoms could be related to trigeminal neuralgia, salivary gland disease, or even swollen lymph nodes. You may also be referred to an otolaryngologist or dentist specializing in jaw disorders by your doctor. Until your condition is determined, you will be treated based on the severity of your symptoms.

What To Expect With PT Treatment for TMJ

At your first appointment a thorough examination of your neck, shoulders, and thoracic spine will be performed to determine whether those structures are causing your symptoms.

Our physical therapist will assess jaw mobility and work to relieve neck and head muscle tightness. 

Then, based on the complexities of your symptoms and your specific needs, one of our physical therapists will create a care plan for you. A variety of procedures and modalities, such as jaw exercises, soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, myofascial techniques, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound, may be included in your recovery plan.

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