The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), commonly known as the jaw joint, is responsible for opening and closing our jaw which enables us to eat, speak, yawn, and breathe. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD’s) encompass a group of disorders that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control its movement. Symptoms associated with TMD’s include painful joint sounds (such as clicking or grinding), restricted range of movement (difficulty opening the mouth), jaw pain, face pain, ear pain, neck pain and headaches. The cause of TMD’s is often multi-factorial and can be related to increased muscle tightness, joint stiffness, postural changes, joint subluxation, stress, and trauma.
Physiotherapy has shown to be effective in reducing pain, relaxing hyperactive muscles, increasing range of movement and improving jaw function for patients with TMD. This may be achieved through:
- massage and dry needling of tight muscles
- joint mobilisation of both the TMJ and neck
- exercise prescription to stretch tight muscles and strengthen muscles to support jaw and neck movement
- identifying and addressing risk factors contributing to the condition