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TMJ- Jaw Pain and Physical Therapy

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorders cause pain in the face and jaw.   People with TMJ have problems with chewing, talking, and pain in related structures (ears and neck musculature). Temporomandibular disorders affect more than 25% of the general population with only 10% seeking help. Patients with chronic TMJ have been found to have higher incidence of depression, poor sleep quality, and lower energy levels.  It is also commonly found in people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes. 

Common symptoms may include:

  • Face/jaw pain

  • Joint sounds/clicking

  • Limitation in  mouth opening

  • Muscle and joint tenderness

  • Difficulty in chewing

  • Ringing in the ear (Tinnitus)

  • Headache

  • "tooth" pain that is not related to an actual dental problem (referred pain from a nerve)

Common causes may include:

  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding

  • Poor posture

  • Chewing on ice, fingernails, etc.

  • Stress

  • Arthritis

  • Joint dysfunction

Conservative Physical Therapy management of face or temporomandibular joint related pain may include: 

  • Modalities: such as heat and ice

  • Manual Therapy:  “hands on” treatment to improve pain and restore function and movement. 

  • Mobilization and Manipulation:  movement of a joint to improve pain and restore functional movement.

  • Therapeutic Exercise:  specific exercise to improve pain and restore functional movement. 

  • Functional Movement Training:  exercises to improve posture and movement.

  • Biofeedback:  a way of using a computer or other device to “see” and improve body functions such as muscle activity or indicators of stress.   

  • Electrical Stimulation or TENS:  used to help improve pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle function, and circulation.

To schedule an appointment at Clemens Physical Therapy call 304-842-6008

Physical Therapists are specialists in restoring movement and function related to muscle, bone, or joint dysfunction.  They often work to improve pain and disability.  To learn more about PT or find one in your area, check out a consumer oriented site on PT here

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