>U Mom Knows Best: A Guide to Understanding Physical Therapy for TMJ Disorder

Friday, July 7, 2023

A Guide to Understanding Physical Therapy for TMJ Disorder

 Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a fairly common condition impacting more than 10 million people in the U.S. alone. In some cases, mild TMJ issues may clear up on their own. But in many cases, professional intervention is necessary to address the problem and its underlying cause. If you think you or a loved one may have TMJ disorder, this guide will help you understand what may be causing it and how physical therapy can help.

What Is TMJ Disorder

 TMJ disorder is any disorder impacting the natural movement of the jaw. There are more than 30 combined conditions that can negatively impact the jaw joint as well as the ligaments and muscles surrounding it. TMJ disorder can cause a variety of issues, including pain and difficulty opening or closing the jaw, frequent headaches, and pain in the neck or shoulder area.

 You have two jaw joints (one on each side of your head). They are located just in front of your ears and are responsible for helping your jaw joint move. You need proper function in these joints to speak and chew optimally. TMJ disorder can be broadly divided into three categories:

1. Disorders of the jaw joints

2. Headaches resulting from TMD

3. Disorders of the muscles responsible for chewing

 If you think you have TMJ disorder, it’s wise to seek professional help. The condition can become worse if it is not promptly treated. Search online for “TMJ physical therapy near me” to have a physical therapist officially diagnose your condition and suggest treatment options.

How Can Physical Therapy Help

 Physical therapy in Louisville can be very helpful for TMJ disorder. A physical therapist can provide the diagnosis you need to start receiving treatment. If you’ve never been to a physical therapist before, you may be wondering what to expect. Your physical therapist may perform a variety of tests on the affected area. These tests may include examining your jaw through its full range of motion to determine if there are any unnatural movements involved. Your therapist may also take an X-ray of your jaw to see if there are any obvious signs of damage, arthritis, or other diseases.

 A good physical therapist in Evansville, IN, will also likely check for underlying causes of your TMD symptoms. They may assess your posture, measure the range of motion in both your neck and your jaw, and physically examine the muscles and other structures surrounding your jaw joints.

Treatments for TMJ Disorder

 Once your evaluation is done and a diagnosis is made, your physical therapist should suggest treatment options and perform the treatments you agree to. Physical therapy for TMJ disorder often includes:​

• Massage of the jaw, neck, and facial muscles

• Ultrasound therapy to heat the deep tissues and improve blood flow and cellular mobility

• Postural instructions to help reduce strain on your jaw joints

• Mobilizations of the temporomandibular joint to improve mobility and restore proper joint motion

• Therapeutic application of hot or cold temperatures

 Your physical therapist may also recommend exercises and stretches you can do at home to further increase flexibility and mobility of the jaw joint. In rare circumstances, surgery may be required to restore proper joint function.​

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