TMJ pain (Jaw Pain) – How can physiotherapy play a helpful role?

When talking about TMJ Pain, physiotherapy is generally not the first health profession that comes to mind. In the first instance, a dentist is usually this initially thought. While dentists can help with TMJ pain, likewise, physiotherapists can often have a role in treating this issue.

The TMJ is otherwise known as your jaw; it is a sliding hinge type joint. Surrounding the joint, like any other joint in the body, there are accompanying muscles that help move and control your jaw that allow us the ability to talk, bite, chew etc. If there is dysfunction in these muscles, teeth grinding or clenching may occur, known as bruxism.

Often TMJ pain and disorders present with some or all the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain in the jaw (one or both sides)
  • Pain in the neck
  • Headaches at the sides of the head (temporal area)
  • Clicking/clunking in the jaw itself
  • Reports from dentist of abnormal teeth wear
  • Reports from partner of teeth grinding during sleep (audible)

TMJ pain and physiotherapy

A physiotherapy assessment is utilised to help identify the specific drivers of TMJ pain presentations. Physiotherapy intervention has been shown to help improve TMJ symptoms in 3-6 weeks. Depending on the specific presentation, a dentist referral may also be provided to seek their professional opinion and management.

Physiotherapy treatments for TMJ pain and dysfunction can include:
– joint mobilisations
– massage / myofascial release
– acupuncture / dry needling
– neck / cervical mobilisations
– stretches and strength exercises to do from home for self management
– education and development of strategies to help deal with contributing psycho-social factors

If TMJ pain is holding you back, contact us at Physio Performance Clinic and we can advise you on the best course of management.

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