TMJ dysfunction is when the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) becomes painful and difficult to move. Disorders of the TMJ affect nearly 5% to 12% of the population in the U.S., making it a prevalent condition. Do you think you may be dealing with TMJ dysfunction? Get to know this condition a little better and find out why physical therapy may be the solution you need for your symptoms.
What are some of the top causes of TMJ dysfunction?
There are many reasons why someone may develop TMJ dysfunction, including::
- Excessive grinding or clenching of the teeth — One of the most common causes of TMJ dysfunction is grinding or clenching the teeth. Grinding and clenching the teeth too much can place stress on the joints of the jaw and lead to inflammation in the joints.
- Excessive chewing — Using the jaw during chewing movements can also lead to inflammation of the jaw joint. Chewing gum or biting nails can be repetitive enough to place strain on the jaw. The strain can eventually lead to inflammation and dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
- Injury to the head, neck or jaw — Injury to the head, neck and jaw can also be a reason why TMJ dysfunction may develop. Blows to the head during sports injuries or car accidents are examples of trauma that can lead a person to develop TMJ dysfunction.
- Arthritis in the jaw — Arthritis can develop anywhere in the body and cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. In some cases, arthritis can develop in the jaw and lead a person to experience discomfort and limited mobility in their jaw while talking, chewing, and opening their mouth.
- Muscle tension around the jaw joint — Tension that builds in the muscles of the head and jaw can also contribute to TMJ dysfunction. Whether due to stress or immobility, the muscles in the head can become tense and place extra stress on the jaw.
What benefits can physical therapy offer someone with TMJ dysfunction?
Physical therapy can provide a variety of benefits to people struggling with TMJ dysfunction. Key benefits include:
- Reduced pain and discomfort — Pain and discomfort are common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, usually because of inflammation around the joint. Physical therapy can help someone with TMJ dysfunction reduce the amount of pain they’re experiencing in their jaw. Therapeutic exercise during physical therapy sessions can reduce muscle tension, promote circulation and reduce inflammation, all of which can improve pain in the jaw.
- Improved range of motion in the jaw — Swelling and inflammation can lead a person with TMJ dysfunction to struggle with a limited range of motion. They may have difficulty using their jaw to bite down on foods or chew on the foods they eat. Physical therapy uses exercise to reduce inflammation and reduce stiffness so that patients can use their jaws with greater ease.
- Reduced muscle tension in the jaw — Muscle tension can place stress on the joints; using exercise during sessions to release the tension can free up tension on the joints, too.
- Increased muscle strength around the jaw — Physical therapists are experts in building muscle strength, even in the head and jaw. Strong muscles around the jaw are important. They can help protect the joints, ligaments and tendons in the head, making moving the jaw easier and more comfortable.
Our REPAIR SI team can address your TMJ dysfunction with physical therapy
At REPAIR SI, our range of services includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and fitness training. When you come to us for your TMJ dysfunction, you can achieve your best physical, mental and spiritual life. We value whole-body treatment, which means your TMJ care is extended to multiple areas of your life, not just your symptoms. Each of our patients is important to us. That’s why we’ve partnered with our community to provide you with the innovative care and quality resources needed to address your overall health.
Our team members are committed to serving our community in a way that leaves our patients satisfied with their treatment. If you’re struggling with TMJ dysfunction in the jaw, you can feel confident that you’re getting high-quality care from our physical therapists.
It’s time to consider REPAIR SI for TMJ dysfunction. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our physical therapists with any questions or concerns you’d like to have answered.