Relieving the Tension: A Guide to TMJ and the Role of Physiotherapy in Recovery

May 8, 2024 11:47:03 AM | Renew Relieving the Tension: A Guide to TMJ and the Role of Physiotherapy in Recovery

Discover the causes of TMJ and the personalized treatment plans offered by physiotherapists.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder affects millions of people, causing discomfort and impacting daily life. The TMJ is a joint that connects the jawbone to the skull, helping essential actions like chewing and talking. When issues start to happen within this joint, individuals can experience pain, clicking, and limited movement. Fortunately, physiotherapy is able to play a vital role in alleviating symptoms and promoting recovery.

Symptoms of TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder can appear in various symptoms that can greatly impact one's daily life. From persistent jaw pain to limited jaw movement, these symptoms can be debilitating. However, with the help of physiotherapy, individuals suffering from TMJ disorders can find relief and regain proper jaw function. Symptoms that you should be looking out for are:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness, especially when chewing or speaking
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when moving the jaw
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth fully
  • Locking of the jaw joint, making it hard to open or close the mouth
  • Facial pain or soreness, including around the ears, cheeks, and temples
  • Pain or pressure in the temples or near the eyes
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Headaches, often resembling migraines or tension headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain or stiffness, often associated with jaw discomfort
  • Changes in bite alignment, feeling like the teeth don't fit together properly
  • Dizziness or vertigo in some cases, especially when jaw movements are involved

These symptoms can vary in severity and may come and go over time, but if you experience persistent or severe TMJ symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.

Causes of TMJ

  1. Teeth Grinding: Habitual teeth grinding or clenching can strain the TMJ and surrounding muscles, leading to pain and dysfunction.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress often manifests physically, contributing to jaw clenching and muscle tension around the TMJ.
  3. Malocclusion (Misaligned Bite): An improper bite can strain the TMJ, causing discomfort and potential long-term issues.
  4. Arthritis: Inflammatory joint conditions, such as arthritis, can affect the TMJ and contribute to pain and stiffness.
  5. Injury or Trauma: Direct impact or trauma to the jaw can lead to TMJ disorders, causing pain and restricted movement.

How can Physiotherapy help?

There are multiple ways physiotherapy can help TMJ. First, a Physiotherapist will conduct a thorough evaluation to identify the specific factors contributing to TMJ issues. This may involve assessing jaw movement, muscle strength, and the alignment of the spine and neck. From there, the Physical Therapist creates personalized treatment plans tailored to the specific needs and goals of the patient. Treatment plans typically include: 

  1. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as massage and joint mobilizations, can help alleviate muscle tension and improve the range of motion in the TMJ.
  2. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Targeted exercises are designed to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, promoting a more balanced and functional jaw movement.
  3. Posture Correction: Poor posture can contribute to TMJ disorders. Physiotherapists address posture issues to reduce strain on the jaw and surrounding muscles.
  4. Modalities for Pain Relief: Therapeutic modalities, such as dry needling, may be used to manage pain and inflammation associated with TMJ disorders.
  5. Education and Lifestyle Modifications: Physiotherapists provide education on habits and lifestyle factors that may be exacerbating TMJ symptoms. This includes techniques to manage stress, proper jaw positioning, and relaxation exercises.
Physiotherapy for TMJ disorders is a holistic approach that empowers individuals to take an active role in their recovery. By addressing the root causes and providing targeted interventions, Physiotherapists help alleviate pain and improve jaw function. If you're experiencing TMJ issues, don't let discomfort dictate your quality of life. 

Schedule an appointment with a Renew Physiotherapist to explore how our experienced therapists can guide you on the path to relief and long-term jaw health. Embrace a life free from TMJ tension – your jaw will thank you!