What is Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ):
The TMJ is a small joint just in front of your ear that connects the jaw to the skull. We have one of these joints on each side of our face. It is a modified hinge type of synovial joint which allows you to open and close your mouth. Movements include elevation, depression, protrusion, retraction, and lateral movements of the jaw.
TMJ pain comes in a variety of presentations. Below are just some of the symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction or injury,
- Stiffness or locking sensations
- Discomfort around the joint and referred into the jaw, especially when eating
- Aching around the joint and the ear
- Pain in the side of the jaw
- Clicking or grating feeling in the jaw
- Throbbing in the TMJ
What causes TMJ pain:
- Degeneration/ wear and tear (osteoarthritis)
- Jaw clenching and grinding
- Sustained positions and pressure on the joint (for example sleeping awkwardly on the joint
- Neck and cranial issues (for example, postural issues)
- Systemic issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia
How we may treat it.
- Diagnose the cause of the pain and what area is the likely cause of your TMJ pain or discomfort
- Carefully choose which methods of treatment will suit your particular symptoms
- Specialised hands on therapy and soft tissue techniques to target the source of your pain
- Restoration of movement and function to the TMJ
- Home exercise program to alleviate and treat the issue
- Monitor symptoms in order to ensure it does not return
- Prescribe exercises to prevent it happening again and follow up advice to keep symptoms at bay