The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull. If there is an injury to this joint or it becomes damaged, it can cause TMJ syndrome. TMJ can also be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, gum chewing, arthritis, teeth grinding or jaw injury. Symptoms of this TMJ disorder include pain in the jaw, jaw popping, headaches, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, pain in the temple and earache. It’s important to realize that the temporomandibular joint is a complex and important structure comprised of bones, tendons and muscles, and you may have pain on one or both sides of the jaw.
There is no specific method of diagnosing TMJ. A physician will take your medical history and do an exam. Your physician may also send you to a dentist specializing in jaw disorders or to an otolaryngologist. Your symptoms may be due to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, salivary gland disease or even swollen lymph nodes. The idea is to rule out other medical problems.
Sometimes, home remedies can relieve the symptoms of TMJ syndrome. Some people respond well to over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and aspirin. Ice packs applied to the jaw joint may also help. Sedative essential oils, such as clary sage and lavender may give temporary relief. When home remedies don’t work, medical treatment may be needed. A jaw specialist may use a dental splint to keep teeth properly aligned and to prevent tooth grinding. Other types of medical treatment include trigger point acupuncture, joint replacement or a TMJ arthroscopy. Muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory meds may be prescribed.
Physical therapy is effective in the treatment of TMJ. A physical therapist will analyze your jaw mobility and release muscle tension in the neck and head area. A comprehensive evaluation is done of the neck, shoulder girdle and thoracic spine to determine if those structures are causing your symptoms. The goal of physical therapy is to restore the interaction of the muscles and joints and to restore normal function. Treatment may consist of different modalities. Active modalities include soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, myofascial techniques and jaw exercises. Electric stimulation and ultrasound may be used to decrease muscle tension and provide pain relief. In addition, a physical therapist can educate you on dietary changes that will decrease stress on the jaw joint. Ware available at Ada, Byron Center, Caledonia, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Hastings, Rockford, Walker, Kentwood & Jenison, MI Centers. Feel free to contact us.
Have to say that Advent Physical Therapy on 3 Mile Road is really first rate. They are very professional and friendly, my treatments for my arm and neck that I have received are going well and I am achieving some noticeable improvement. I recommend them most highly!