Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a condition which is characterized by pain and inflammation at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or its surrounding musculature. Causes may include grinding or clenching your teeth, gum chewing, fingernail biting, poor posture, stress, arthritis, jaw abnormality, or muscular imbalances. This may result in facial, head or neck pain, headaches, locking of the jaw, inability to fully open your mouth, joint clicking, and discomfort or pain when chewing or yawning.
Physical therapy is often recommended by your physician or dentist. An evaluation is performed to assess postural abnormalities, jaw range of motion, presence of joint clicking or abnormality with mouth opening and closing, and a neck evaluation is also performed. Following completion of the evaluation, an individualized treatment plan is formed.
Physical therapy treatment may consist of:
- Manual and self stretching techniques to improve range of motion
- Postural exercises
- Education in avoidance activities (ie diet alteration)
- Instruction in proper breathing techniques
- Non-invasive treatments to minimize pain and spasm