What you need to know about physiotherapy and podiatry.
Are you suffering from a painful clicking jaw, difficulty opening your mouth wide when you yawn, or difficulty or pain when chewing? If you have answered yes, then you might be having temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
TMD is a set of conditions that cause pain and loss of normal function to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint. The TMJ is a hinge joint that connects your lower jawbone (mandibular) to the temporal bone of the skull. Muscles around the jaw and the TMJ work in a co-ordinated fashion so that we can move our jaw side to side, and open our mouth to eat, talk, chew, and yawn.
TMD can be temporary or may last for many years. TMD can cause severe pain and discomfort and may affect one or both sides of the joint. TMD commonly affect women more than men, and is common among people between the ages of 20 to 40.
What causes Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
The exact cause of TMD can sometimes be difficult to determine. However, symptoms may arise from problems with the jaw muscles or within the joint itself and may be related to the following:
· Trauma to the head and neck such as whiplash injury that might place a heavy blow to the jaw directly or indirectly
· Grinding or clenching of your teeth that may put a lot of pressure to the TMJ, causing pain in the joint and muscles
· Arthritis in the TMJ
Signs and Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
· Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint, in or around the ear, face, or neck and shoulders
· Pain or difficulty with chewing
· Difficulty opening your mouth widely
· Jaw getting locked or stuck when opening or closing the mouth
· Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
· TMD may also be associated with headache, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or neck aches
When to seek treatment?
If you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you cannot open or close your jaw completely, do seek medical attention with your dentist or physiotherapist trained in treating TMD. It is important to determine an exact diagnosis in the first consultation as neck pain (upper cervical spine), trigeminal nerve pain and ear problems are common differential conditions with TMD. A physiotherapist can help to normalize the muscles involved in chewing and jaw opening. Scientific research has shown that jaw pain and mouth opening restrictions in patients with TMD can be greatly improved by physiotherapy treatment.