TMJ (jaw Pain)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. There is a disc that sits in between these bones to assist with the smooth gliding movement of the TMJ. There are muscles that connect to the jawbone, the skull and the disc and move the jaw. We use these muscles to eat. TMJ or jaw pain commonly occurs when there is an imbalance between these muscles on either side of the jaw. This imbalance can lead to structures of the jaw being put under too much load/stress or being overstretched which can cause inflammation and pain.
TMJ dysfunctions not only affect the jaw but can refer pain into the neck, cause painful clicking and locking and even headaches. The clicking you hear, and subsequent locking is a result of the disc between the bones being pulled into the wrong position by the muscles. This can also cause a deviation to the normal alignment of the opening and closing of your mouth and frequent biting of the inside of your cheek.
There is a close relationship between head and neck posture and the jaw function. If the head is tilted or rotated, it can place more stress of the muscles around the jaw. Stress can also lead to clenching and grinding of the teeth and tightening/dysfunction of the muscles.
Free Movement Physio are experienced and additionally trained in assessing and treating TMJ conditions. Your physiotherapist will assess the structures that can influence your jaw such as your neck and upper back, shoulders, face, and skull. After diagnosing the likely cause of your pain your physiotherapist will provide treatments such as massage, dry needling, muscle retraining and relaxation exercises to treat any areas impacting on the jaw and improve the jaw alignment. Every jaw is different and requires individual assessment and specific treatments.
Free Movement Physio work in conjunction with dentists, therefore it is important to discuss your care with your current dentist to promote further improvements.