Temporomandibular joint of the jaw is a complex joint that acts as a hinge. It connects your mandible, or jaw bone, to the skull. Like other joints, the TMJ can become a source of pain or limited motion. Dysfunction in this joint is more common than you might think. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that 10.8 million Americans have TMJ dysfunction. There is a higher prevalence of women age 20-40 with this diagnosis compared to men.
Symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction typically include pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and tinnitus. Some popping or clicking may be heard with opening the mouth. Occasionally, the jaw will lock and restrict motion due to dysfunction at this joint.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can be caused by many factors. Like other joints, this joint can develop arthritis. As we age, the TMJ meniscus can start to wear out causing discomfort from the two bones grinding together. Some people may start to have TMJ pain from grinding their teeth habitually. Other sources of TMJ dysfunction can include fracture, congenital abnormalities, or trauma. No matter the cause, pain related to TMJ dysfunction can typically be relieved with conservative measures.
For people with TMJ dysfunction, one of the most common interventions is a mouth guard. Using a mouth guard or splint can be beneficial in assisting to realign the joint and maintain proper positioning. It can also reduce teeth grinding throughout the night. Physical therapy can also be used to alleviate symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The physical therapy interventions will be based on the cause of the symptoms. In general, exercises to strengthen and stretch the jaw musculature may be used along with manual therapy and modalities.
If you are having pain in your jaw or have been diagnosed with TMJ, please come see us for a free consultation to see how we can assist you in your recovery. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022