If you regularly suffer from facial pain, noisy clicking when yawning or eating, headaches, tinnitus or neck pain, you could be suffering from TMJ or jaw dysfunction. And, whether your complaint is a result of an accident, or your lifestyle (hello, slouchy), you can rest assured you’re far from alone! Jaw pain is an increasingly common complaint in today’s stress-filled lifestyle.
With over 30 years’ physiotherapy experience, Collins Place Physio’s Peter Bond is our go-to Senior Physiotherapist for jaw concerns. His keen interest in TMJ intervention and decades of expertise make him your first port of call to get things moving smoothly again.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is just a wordy way of saying jaw joint. The two TMJs allow the jaw to be suspended under the skull. Each joint is the junction of two bones, a hollow in the under-surface of the side skull bone and a rounded prominence at the top of the jaw bone or mandible. Like all joints, these two bones move on each other and have cartilage bonded onto their joint surfaces and are held together and encapsulated by fibrous tissue. In the case of each TMJ, a cartilage disc between these joint surfaces allows a better fit and a range and variety of movement.
Dysfunction of the TMJ is the perception that there is some inability to perform in its normal way. The TMJ works in conjunction with many other body parts, including the TMJ of the opposite side. It is important to recognise this, as involvement of a team of health professionals is often required to address the various issues concerning a patient’s jaw dysfunction.
Not all ear aches are due to infection, and discomfort in this region can often be jaw related, due to the TMJ’s positioning. Each TMJ is located immediately in front of the ear which explains symptoms such as a blocked ear, ear ache, or noises when moving the jaw which are not heard by others.
Other symptoms may be headache, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, pain which occurs in the region of the TMJ, altered sensation in the teeth, neck pain and joint noises such as popping, clicking and grating.
Causes of problems of the TMJ and associated structures include:
• Various arthritic and soft tissue conditions.
• The long-term performance of various bad TMJ habits, which might include such things as clenching and grinding of teeth, nail biting, chewing gum, forced opening occurring, for example when yawning.
• Poor/abnormal posture – this is often unknown to the patient, thus education is important.
• Poor coping mechanisms when stressed as this can cause tensing or tightening of facial and jaw muscles.
• Trauma such a direct blow or indirect such as whiplash in a motor vehicle accident.
• Poor occlusion, such as absent or poorly positioned teeth.
• Having the jaw open for prolonged periods of time, such as during lengthy dental procedures.
CPP’s Peter Bond, a physiotherapist who has undergone extra study in TMJ dysfunction, can give advice on usage of the jaw, and improve joint movement and muscle function via techniques such as mobilisation, muscle massage, gentle stretching if found to be shortened, strengthening if found to be weak, the application of heat and or ice, dry needling, and attending to a patient’s posture.
Make an appointment with Peter and address your jaw pain today!