If you have pain in your jaw, you may have a condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, also known as TMJ dysfunction, or TMD. Your TMJ functions as a hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. Dysfunction in this joint can lead to pain and discomfort, and difficulty using your jaw. Symptoms include pain in the jaw, face, mouth or ear, clicking in your jaw, difficulty chewing, joint locking and muscle spasms.
If you’ve been diagnosed with TMD by your physician or dentist, physical therapy may be your best option.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the specific cause of someone’s TMJ disorder can be difficult to determine. It could be due to a combination of genetics, arthritis, excessive strain (from clenching or teeth grinding), or trauma to the jaw.
Physical therapy can help decrease inflammation and pain, improve posture, improve jaw mobility, and help you regain normal function of your jaw.
A TMJ treatment plan can include exercises to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles, application of heat or ice, ultrasound, massage, TMJ mobilizations, and postural instruction.