What is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction?
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is not a simple problem. It can present with many different symptoms and can arise from a number of factors. This means that it is often difficult to accurately diagnose and treatment can be delayed. The longer treatment is delayed the greater the likelihood symptoms will persist. This has been demonstrated in a number of scientific studies. Conservative treatment consisting of physiotherapy, dentistry, and lifestyle changes can produce a significant decrease if not a reversal in symptoms.
The joint consists of the condyle of the mandible, the socket in the temporal bone that the condyle fits into, the disc in between the two bones, and the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, & nerves) around the joint. If all of these parts are not correctly aligned, irritation of the joint, grinding and clicking of the jaw can occur. All of these can result in pain.
There are a number of factors that can cause TMJ dysfunction, but the most common are:
- Trauma (e.g. a blow or car accident)
- Joint degeneration
- Poor bite
- Muscle spasm and weakness
- Stress (e.g. clenching teeth)
- Chronic neck problems
- Poor posture
The most common symptoms can be seen below:
The severity of these symptoms can vary as can the combination.
Conservative treatment through physiotherapy in partnership with dentistry can provide significant relief of symptoms. At Pearlgate Physiotherapy Services, physiotherapy treatment includes pain management techniques, gentle manual techniques, and exercise to promote proper alignment of the body and jaw. It will also include extensive education about the jaw and techniques you can use to help yourself recover.
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