Do you ever hear or feel popping or clicking in your jaw joints? If so, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) may be to blame. This disorder, which can only be diagnosed by a healthcare professional, is commonly referred to as “TMJ.” The pain it causes can range from slight to severe and can diminish one’s quality of life as it limits the natural functions of the jaw, such as chewing and yawning.
The Most Common Symptom of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
While pain in and around the jaw joint is a typical complaint among TMD sufferers, headache is actually the most common symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder. The American Academy of Craniofacial Pain stated,
“Even though a headache can be a sign of many kinds of health problems, frequent headaches are the most common complaints of TMD sufferers. Other common complaints can include:
- Clicking or popping jaw joints
- Pain when chewing or yawning, grinding or clenching your teeth
- Neck/shoulder pain
- Worn teeth
- Stiffness in your jaw joints that makes it difficult to open or to close your mouth.”
Ringing in the ears, dizziness, jaw fatigue, and locking of the jaw are also symptoms of TMD.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, speak with a healthcare practitioner, such as a physiotherapist, about your concerns.
A Few Causes of TMD
Like most health concerns, there are a variety of causes of TMD. Here are a few causes of the disorder:
- Bruxism (jaw-clenching)
- Poor posture that results in a forward head position
- Misalignment of the teeth
- Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
Only a healthcare professional can tell you exactly what is causing your case of temporomandibular joint disorder and how it can best be treated. Since a physiotherapist can provide hands-on treatment for TMD, consider contacting this type of healthcare provider at the first sign of temporomandibular joint disorder.
Physiotherapy Can Effectively Treat TMD
An effective, drug-free treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder is physiotherapy. “Your (physiotherapist) can help you restore the natural movement of your jaw and decrease your pain,” wrote a contributor to Move Forward PT. The contributor explained that physiotherapy treatments often include:
1) Posture education — TMD patients usually need a physiotherapist to point out the ways in which they can improve their posture and get out of the habit of leaning their head and neck too far forward for long periods of time.
2) Improving jaw movement — Jaw movement can be improved for some people through low-impact exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist.
3) Pain treatments — Severe pain may call for treatments that include ultrasound and electrical stimulation. A physiotherapist can administer these pain treatments.
A physiotherapist may refer TMD patients to a dentist, especially if they suspect the disorder is caused by misalignment of the teeth.
Do you think you may have TMD? If so, contact a local physiotherapy clinic. If you’re not sure if the physiotherapy team you are contacting treats temporomandibular joint disorder, just ask.