Healthy Talk

Temporal Mandibular Disorders (TMD)

Q.My dentist tells me that the pain in my jaw, neck and ear is because I have a TMJ problem. I have been wearing a bite splint that helps somewhat but I still have pain. Is there anything else I can do?

A.

Robert Baker, PT
Robert Baker,
PT
TMJ stands for your Temporal Mandibular Joints. They are the joints where your jaw bone meets your head. You have 2 of them, one on each side (right in front of your ear). They work like other joints in your body and can develop similar problems, like osteoarthritis, inflamed and irritated joint capsules, or injuries to the meniscus (disc) within the joint.

Usually with temporal madibular disorders (TMD) patients have multiple complaints ranging from clicking and popping of the joints when chewing or eating, headaches, ear pain, neck pain or facial pain. Many of the symptoms associated with the TMD are in fact related to head, neck and postural problems that contribute and compound the patient’s TMD.

A physical therapist can identify the underlying causes and any contributing factors that can be improved upon, such as posture, flexibility, or muscle weakness. These underlying issues can often be addressed by proper hands on physical therapy combined with exercise instruction to both reduce the symptoms and help reduce future problems.

The importance of ongoing excercise can not be overemphasized. The patient can also benefit greatly by learning how to control their bite, change habits and improve postural positioning. Not all P.T.’s have training in management of TMD – so be sure you see s therapist that has this expertise. Please call us if you have any questions, or call to schedule a free consultation to see if physical therapy may be of help to you.

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