It’s quite common for people to have painful symptoms that they learn to live with. And this is one of them – temporomandibulara joint (TMJ) syndrome.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is a localised pain disorder that presents in the joint between your cheek, cheekbone and skull, just in front of your ear. And although this pain can significantly affect quality of life – by making chewing, speaking and even yawning painful – many people put off going to see a health professional because they don’t know who can help.
If you’ve experienced pain in this area, and want to know a little more about TMJ keep reading.
What causes TMJ?
The joint between the cheek and cheekbone contains and disc that allows for smooth movement, whenever you open and close your mouth. When this disc becomes displaced, pain can occur.
The TMJ is supported by a number of muscles that allow the joint to function normally – the main muscles are the temporalis, the masseter and the pterygoids (see below).
These muscles typically develop tight and sore spots called trigger points when the joint is dysfunctional. This creates something called ‘Myofascial Pain Syndrome’ and is common in the TMJ when the chewing muscles are damaged. People who grind their teeth or clench their jaw are particularly vulnerable to this pain as are people who have other issues with their cervical spine and/or dental dysfunction.
How can physiotherapy help with TMJ?
This is a pain that physiotherapists can effectively assess, diagnose and treat. And the good news is, that physiotherapy treatment can improve your symptoms significantly.
Here’s a few things the physio can help with:
- Assess and diagnosis the pain, the surrounding muscles, the cervical spine.
- Identify the underlying cause, including possible habits that may be contributing e.g. high stress, or even excessively chewing gum.
- Provide manual therapy such as massage and dry needling, to address the appropriate muscles and joints.
- Prescribe a home exercise program such as stretching, self-massage, and heat to address appropriate musculoskeletal structures.
If you’ve been suffering with a painful symptom, book an appointment with a physio at Fairfield physiotherapy. You might be surprised to learn that a cure is closer than you think.