What does TMJ stand for?
TMJ is an abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint and is considered the primary joint for your jaw. At this joint, your temporal bone, a part of your skull, and your mandible meet. Your TMJ can experience acute and chronic pain when different types of dysfunction are present. If you are noticing discomfort while talking, chewing, or simply opening your mouth, then this is likely the joint where you are experiencing some dysfunction.
Symptoms of a TMJ dysfunction:
- Painful clicking in the jaw
- “Locking” when your mouth is open fully
- Pain while talking
- Pain while eating crunchy or chewy foods
- Painful clenching of the jaw
- Neck pain
How can Physical Therapy help?
The TMJ can benefit significantly from properly prescribed exercise and manual therapy techniques. Like any joint in the body, the TMJ can display poor movement patterns, tight musculature, and poor joint mobility. Your physical therapist can help through techniques such as joint mobilization, massage therapy, dry needling, and therapeutic exercise to help reduce your symptoms. Alongside treatment explicitly geared for your TMJ, your physical therapist would also look at the mechanics of neck and upper back, since these areas can correlate with the function of your jaw.
How to find a TMJ Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are incredibly knowledgeable and receive years of training before beginning their practice. However, not every PT knows how to treat the TMJ. To properly understand TMJ treatment, a physical therapist needs to pursue training beyond their collegiate education. Fortunately, Freedom Physical Therapy Services has multiple therapists trained in the evaluation and treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction. When calling to make an appointment, ask for a TMJ specialist, and our staff will find the right physical therapist for you.