Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the body and its functions include masticatory movements and activities such as speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
Problems in this joint, better known as temporomandibular dysfunctions, have been a subject of much research due to their high incidence in the population.
The most common causes are:
- Injuries/trauma to the jaw area;;
- Bruxism (nocturnal teeth grinding);
- Tooth/jaw clenching related to stress and anxiety factors;
- Bad habits such as excessive chewing of gum, biting the nails, placing objects between the teeth, leaning the phone between the shoulder and the ear, chewing on one side only, etc);
- Bad posture during daily life.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Dysfunctions may include:
- Facial pain;
- Pain in the joint and surrounding area, which may include the ear
- Difficulty opening the mouth;
- Muscle tiredness in the joint or surrounding area
- Clicking or grinding;
- Bouncing sensation in the joint
- An uncomfortable or uncomfortable bite
- Tooth pain, if there is no tooth damage;
- Shoulder, back, or neck pain;
- Inflammation of one or both sides of the face
- Feeling that the jaw does not open equally on both sides.
Treatment of TMJ dysfunction depends on the type of problem. It may include:
- Massage for muscle relaxation and pain relief;
- Stretching exercises, to improve flexibility and relieve muscle tension;
- Postural correction exercises to improve mouth function and movement, reducing strain;
- Exercises to strengthen the weaker muscles and relax the stronger ones;
- Techniques to improve coordination and correct mouth movements;
- Techniques to teach control of the various muscles that move the joint;
- Treatment of the cervical spine, among others.
Besides these treatments carried out by a Physical Therapist, the intervention of other health professionals may be necessary, which will be suggested in case of need.