TMJ, Orofacial Pain, Headaches

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Temporomandibular Joint Disorders and Orofacial Pain

Do you have pain with chewing, opening, or closing your mouth? Have you ever experienced popping or clicking in your jaw? Does your mouth get stuck open when yawning or taking large bites of food? What about headaches or neck pain? All these symptoms may be associated with temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD. TMD is commonly mistaken as TMJ, which stands for the name of the temporomandibular joint itself. Approximately 35% of the US population has TMD, but only 5-10% seek medical assistance.

Can Physical Therapy help with my orofacial pain or TMD?

Yes! Our physical therapists are trained in treating the temporomandibular joint by combining the use of manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, postural training, and education of symptoms. If you are experiencing bruxism (grinding teeth at night), your therapist may recommend following up with your dentist.

Manual therapy can help reduce and potentially eliminate your orofacial pain. Additionally, manual therapy can prevent surgery in most cases. Manual therapy utilizes skilled joint and soft tissue mobilizations. Following these manual therapy techniques your therapist will then incorporate therapeutic exercise to regain proper motor control patterns. However, if surgery is necessary, physical therapy will still be a critical part of the recovery process. Physical therapy helps minimize scar tissue, improve neuromuscular control, and enables muscle guarding.

Headaches and TMD

Many studies show a strong correlation between TMD and headaches. This means that people who have jaw pain and headaches likely have some level of temporomandibular joint disorder. Additionally, headaches can be caused by muscle tension, cervical dysfunction, TMD, stress, sinus congestion, and others. Your physical therapist can help with determining the root cause of your headache. After that, your therapist can then provide you with an individualized treatment plan.