Jaw Conditions and Physiotherapy: Let’s Put a Smile on That Face!
By Pinakin Godse
Jaw conditions can be very distressing and often uncomfortable for some people to talk about (pun unintended). However, a visit to your physiotherapist could prove worthwhile in this case. Let us explain.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
TMJ joints are two joints connecting the jaw bone to the skull. There is a cushioning disc between these two joints which allows easy and smooth jaw movements. It is a strong joint that is well supported by muscles and ligaments.
TMJ is one of the most active joints in the body. It plays an important role in eating, chewing, swallowing, talking, smiling, laughing, breathing, sneezing, coughing and yawning. Just imagine how difficult it would be to express our emotions if we couldn’t show our facial expressions!
Signs and symptoms:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw clicking/popping
- Difficulty chewing
- Limited jaw movement
- Jaw deviation
- Ringing in ears
What can cause TMJ disorder?
- Trauma to the joint via a direct blow
- Jaw abnormalities, missing teeth or poor bite
- TMJ disc dislocation
- Cervical spine contribution or postural deviations
- Whiplash injury
- High joint load from chewing, biting finger nails, teeth grinding teeth or jaw clenching
- Side effect of certain dental interventions
Your physio will establish a correct diagnosis by evaluating symptoms and ruling out other disorders. Retraining TMJ movement, facial muscle exercises, activity and food modification are key treatments in TMJ disorder. However, in certain cases referral to a dentist or a psychologist will be required.
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