What is TMJ Syndrome? Symptoms and Treatment of the Temporomandibular Joint
What is TMJ?
TMJ is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This is the joint that connects your jawbone to your head and is located just in front of the ear. If there is localized pain in this area of the joint due to an injury or damage of some kind it is referred to as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome or temporomandibular disorder (TMD). With TMJ syndrome there is inflammation of the muscles and nerves around the joint which leads to painful swelling in the area in and around the joint.
TMJ can be caused by a number of different factors, some of the more common reasons someone could experience TMJ is injury or misalignment to their teeth or jaw, teeth grinding or clenching, poor posture, stress, arthritis, and chewing gum. These are often diagnosed initially by a dentist.
Common Symptoms of TMJ
Symptoms of TMJ will depend on the person and the cause of their pain. Most symptoms occur in the areas of the face, eyes, forehead, and ear. Sometimes TMJ symptoms can be associated with neck pain, shoulder pain, or upper back pain.
Some of the more common symptoms include pain or tenderness in the jaw, specifically at the site of the joint. Some people experience a popping or clicking of the jaw and others have pain that resembles a toothache. There can be ear pain as well as ringing or popping sounds in the ears like tinnitus. TMJ can produce headaches as well as migraines. Muscles can be tight and painful around the jaw area, neck and shoulder and can result in muscle spasms. In some cases people experience pain and swelling in the temple area and report difficulty or pain in chewing.
Treatments and Care for TMJ
If you experience any of the above symptoms it is important that you consult with a professional for the proper course of action. Most people consult with their dentist, but your general physician, chiropractor, and/or physical therapist can also help with some treatments.
Because most of the pain with TMJ is a result of inflammation, ice and heat therapy can be an effective treatment. When dealing with the sensitive muscles of the face it is important to take care to follow a professional’s recommendation. Massages and light stretching can also help relieve some pain and help heal the area.
There are also a number of specific exercises that can help relax and strengthen the jaw. These can be done by yourself as well as by a chiropractor or massage therapists. In some cases manual pain treatments such as ultrasounds therapy can be effective.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms it is recommended that you seek professional care and guidance. They will be able to help identify what the root cause of the issue is as well as offer the proper treatment plan.
The good news is that there are treatments for TMJ. You don’t have to live your life in pain.
Hear from one of our patients about how physical therapy helped get them back to normal life
Physical Therapy covers a range of services designed to help patients recover, prevent or maintain their proper physical health.
Myofascial release is a type of hands on therapy designed to release tension in the muscles and the fascia throughout the body.
Therapeutic massage manually manipulates the muscles to bring about relaxation, to reduce pain and increase circulation and is a natural way to treat muscle pain.