When your body hurts you go to the Doctor, when your mouth hurts, you go to the Dentist. But what most people don’t know, is you can go to the Physical Therapist for both.
The jaw, formally called the temporomandibular joint (or TMJ), is a joint like any other in the body and guides jaw movement. Problems with the TMJ are referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction (TMD). Up to 50% of the population will at some point experience at least one sign of TMD in their lifetime. Have you?
- Pain (in the jaw, face, neck, headaches, toothache)
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Jaw fatigue
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Fullness in the ear
- Joint noises within the jaw
CAUTION: symptoms surrounding the jaw can also be indicative of a heart attack. Please seek medical attention immediately if your jaw pain is accompanied by:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Left arm pain
- Numbness in the left arm
A physical therapist that specializes in TMD can help to decrease pain and other symptoms, restore the natural motion of the joint and prevent future occurrences. Our team can work with you and your Dentist to creat a care plan to help you get some relief. There is postural education and retraining you can work on to help alleviate some tensions, as well as manual therapy, pain treatments, and exercises.
If you are lucky enough to not be experiencing these annoying and painful symptoms, here are some general guidelines to follow to try to avoid TMD in the future.
- Place your computer screen/tablet/reading materials/cell phone at eye level
- Use a headset if you spend time on the phone
- Avoid using your jaw for unnecessary tasks such as gum chewing, nail biting, pen cap chewing
- Visit your dentist and doctor regularly (preventative healthcare is key to longevity) – if you need a recommendation for either specialty call our office and we would be happy to give you a list of referrals