Treatment for TMJD
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is a term often used to describe problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. When healthy, the joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side when talking, chewing, or yawning. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw. Myofascial (Myo-fah-shul) Therapy is a form of manual therapy that works strictly with the connective tissues surrounding the musculature to eliminate pain, and restore motion and produces a profound healing effect on the body’s soft tissues. It has been proven to alleviate pain throughout the body, including pain resulting from temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
- Pain/tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth wide
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “locked” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain)
- A tired feeling in the face
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite—as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Other common symptoms include toothaches, headaches, neck pain,dizziness, as well as earaches and hearing problems.
What Causes TMJD?
Stress plays a large role in causing a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth. Also, asymmetry of the muscles of mastication (chewing), forward head posture, tightness of the back of the neck and pelvis can cause TMJD. Injury to the jaw, or muscles of the head and neck—such as from a heavy blow or whiplash—can cause TMJD. Also, grinding or clenching the teeth puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ. Additionally, the jaw is a ball-and-socket joint, and dislocation of the soft cushion or disk between the ball and socket can result in dysfunction. Those experiencing the wear and tear of osteoarthritis or the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ can develop temporomandibular joint disorder.
What to Expect During Treatment
In treating, the Myofascial Therapist will take a case history and further evaluate the position and movements of the jaw to develop a treatment plan. Myofascial treatment for TMJ disorders may involve the jaw, neck, mouth, and head. When the Myofascial Therapist has determined where the restrictiions lie in the fascia (fah-shuh), he or she will apply gentle, sustained pressure in the direction of the restrictions movilizing and returning proper function back to the tissues. This will also aleviate pain in the teeth, ear, eyes, head, and other areas of and around the jaw. In addition, those receiving treatment may receive education on muscle re-education and exercise programs to improve alignment, focusing on specific areas of stretching and strengthening.