Temporomandibular Dysfunction: TMJ/TMD is a condition of the temporomandibular joint and/or associated muscles. Generally, it involves inflammation, pain, and impaired function of the jaw. It may be caused by face or jaw trauma, repetitive muscle strain due to habitual grinding or clenching, an arthritic or congenital condition, or a mechanical dysfunction.
Common symptoms include pain over the side of the face, ear or jaw, pain with eating or yawning, limited opening, painful opening, and popping or clicking noises with jaw movement. On occasion, the jaw may lock open or closed. Some people with TMJ/TMD may also experience headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and neck stiffness.
Physical therapy for TMJ / TMD focuses on resolving inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms/trigger points. Goals include: increasing range of motion, restoring soft tissue and joint mobility, and addressing factors that may perpetuate TMJ/TMD. Postural mal-alignment, neuromuscular imbalances, and poor oral habits may be factors.
Physical therapy treatment may include mobilization, exercises, patient education, biofeedback, neuromuscular re-education, and modalities.