head, face, & TMJ (Jaw)

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw links the mandible, or lower jaw, to the skull. Its proper alignment and function is key for everything from facial symmetry and appearance to mouth opening and chewing. Problems involving the joint fall under the category of temporomandibular dysfunction, or TMD. They can include disc dysfunction, muscular spasm and pain, and arthritis. Signs of dysfunction include:

  • Pain (including jaw pain, headache, earache)

  • Limited motion

  • Intermittent locking of the jaw

Causes of TMD include:

  • trauma

  • joint hypermobility

  • stress/parafunctional activity such as clenching or grinding

  • Issues regarding occlusion (alignment and contact of the upper and lower teeth.)

 

Physical therapy treatment of TMD can take place at any time – from early onset of pain to the point when the condition is considered chronic. Dentists and patients should consider seeing a physical therapist for conservative treatment of TMD in such instances as:

  • When other conservative options, such as rest or NSAIDs, have not reduced pain

  • When there is simultaneous neck pain

  • When postural alignment is suspected to be contributing factor

  • When the practitioner determines PT will be an appropriate adjunct to dental or medical care

Research has found that conservative treatment can be effective in as many as 50% of TMD cases. Physical therapy treatment often includes a combination of manual therapy, exercise, and patient education aimed at decreasing pain, improving mobility (if restricted), improving function, and preventing future recurrence.

 

To learn if physical therapy is right for you, contact Sun Physical Therapy for a free phone or in-person consultation.

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10601 Pecan Park Boulevard #302, Suite A3

Austin, TX 78750

Phone: (512) 522-6447

Fax: (512) - 697-8454

info@sunphystherapy.com