Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Your jaw has a joint on either side called the Temporomandibular Joint or “TMJ”. Problems or pain in one or both of your TMJ’s is called Temporomandibular Dysfunction and is abbreviated TMD. Many of the physiotherapists and the massage therapist at Kamloops Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre have experience and skills to assist you in managing TMD.

Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw, face or ear pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing or fullness in the ears
  • Loss of mobility
  • Joint noises such as popping, clicking and grinding.

After a thorough assessment of your jaw, spine and shoulder blades your therapist can assist you with education, posture correction, manual therapy, exercise and other treatments to help manage TMD.

Your TMJ’s are used all day when you eat, talk, breathe and express emotion. They can even be under strain while you sleep from your sleep position or if you grind or clench your teeth (bruxism). Other ways the TMJ can be stressed and strained include:

  • Teeth clenching during the day with stress or concentration
  • Gum chewing or eating certain foods
  • Singing or playing an instrument
  • Prolonged opening at the dentist or during surgery
  • Whiplash, falls, sports injuries or other trauma
  • Arthritis
  • Poor posture
  • Muscle imbalance

Problems with your teeth and bite alignment also may contribute to TMD and are managed by dentists, Orthodontists and Oral/facial Surgeons.

The bottom bone of the jaw, called the mandible, attaches to the temporal bone of the skull at the TMJ. Your skull balances atop your neck which is connected with your upper back and shoulder blades. The nerves to your jaw muscles intermingle with nerves from your upper neck. Because of this biomechanical connection of your jaw with your neck and upper back and the neurological connection, TMD almost always includes issues in your neck and upper back.  Your therapist will assess your neck, upper back and shoulder blades along with a detailed assessment of your jaw joints and muscles to make sure all components contributing to your symptoms are addressed.

Treatment of TMD may include:

  • Manual therapy
    • Joint mobilization of the TMJ, neck and upper back
    • Massage techniques to the muscles of the face, neck, upper back and shoulder blades
  • Exercise to improve strength, flexibility alignment and control
  • Postural correction
  • Acupuncture and/or dry needling
  • Education and advice
  • Stress management skills

Call our clinic and ask to see a therapist with special interest in treating TMD to get to the bottom of the problem and start feeling better.