Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – What is it?
The jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jaw bone to your skull. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side. The TMJ allows you to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw control the position and movement of the jaw. Pain can be experienced in and around the jaw from the cartilage covering the joint, it ligaments, disc or muscles. Often as a result, there is a dysfunction in movement.
TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
- The join’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
The Causes of TMJ disorder
The causes can sometimes be difficult to determine. In my opinion based on clinical experience the most common causes are clenching, stress, grinding in your sleep, stress, and trauma.
TMJ Disorder Signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain and tenderness of the jaw
- Aching pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Clicking of the jaw whilst opening and closing your mouth
- Limited jaw movement
- Locking of the jaw (ie. cannot open your jaw any further)
For most people with TMJ disorders it can be treated with non surgical methods and self-managed care.
Jaw Pain Treatment
With the assistance of manual therapy, such as osteopathy, the movement of the TMJ and the surrounding musculature can be improved or even completely restored. Other areas, which can often be associated with TMJ disorder and treated, are the neck, shoulders and upper back.
Self Manage of TMJ Disorder by:
- eating soft foods
- avoiding hard and crunchy foods (like hard rolls and raw carrots), chewy foods (like chewing gum and steak) and larger foods (like apples).
- avoid clenching
- avoid extreme movements
- wearing a night guard can help, if grinding is known to occur.
- Stretching exercises for the jaw and neck
- Strengthening exercises for the jaw
If you have jaw pain or TMJ disorder, make an appointment with an Osteopath at Melbourne Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic.