What is the TMJ? As you may or may not know, TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. These are the jaw joints. We all have two TMJ’s, one on the left and one on the right and they are just in front of the ear canals. When someone complains about jaw pain and says, “I have TMJ,” they probably mean to say they have TMD. TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder. This is a general term for a variety of possible conditions that may include spasm of the jaw muscles, cracking and popping in the TMJ, problems with the disk within the TMJ, inflammation of the TMJ and more. Physical therapists treat patients with TMD on a daily basis. We use techniques to decrease inflammation in and/or around the joint, help relax the muscles that close the jaw, stretch tight TMJ’s, teach patients how to manage a TMJ that might click or pop, and help relieve pain in the TMJ’s. Here is some simple advice related to the TMJ’s:
1) Don’t chew gum all the time; avoid tough foods such as bagels, dried meats, hard candy, and chewing your fingernails.
2) Limit yawning and other mouth opening to no more than two finger widths.
3) Avoid clenching your teeth by keeping the teeth slightly apart and the jaw relaxed.
4) Don’t lean or sleep on your jaw and be wary of morning jaw pain, as it may be a sign of grinding or clenching while you are asleep.
So, if you or someone you know suffers from TMD or jaw pain, ask your doctor if physical therapy is right for you. If you are in the San Antonio area, come visit the experts at Momentum Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab. Our therapists are trained in the latest techniques and we can deliver the best care available for all sorts of pain and physical problems. We may be able to really help you get out of pain or refer you to a physician that specializes in this problem. Come see what makes our company so different from your average physical therapy office. We would love the opportunity to impress you!