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TMJ - What is it and how can you manage it?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Do you experience any of the following symptoms: -ear pain, jaw pain, headaches,

a “blocked ear” sensation, ringing in the ears?

Have you ever bitten down on an apple and experienced immediate jaw and ear pain or have been unable to fully open or close your mouth afterwards?

Do you get an annoying clicking or grinding sound in one or both ears?

If you answer yes to any of these questions you may be suffering from TMJD (tempero-mandibular joint dysfunction)

The TMJs are small but very powerful joints that sit just in front of our ears and connect your jaw bone to your skull. The joint can be irritated by many different factors which may include stress, poor posture, trauma, chewing, age or a long session at the dentist.

Recently we have seen an increase in the number of people presenting to the practice with TMJD and this could be attributed to people working from home at inappropriate workstations and under increasingly higher levels of stress.

Stress can lead to you clenching your teeth which not only wears your teeth unevenly but can also overload the TMJ and lead to any of the previously described symptoms.

Management of TMJD is multifactorial and the main principle of management is to identify and understand the cause and then change the behaviour to correct the cause.

Some physiotherapists have a special interest and skills in TMJD management and treatment. Treatment can be as simple as unloading the TMJ with massage, posture correction and appropriate home exercises. Some TMJs, that are locked, may need specific manual techniques to unlock them to regain maximum mouth opening and restoration of correct bite.

If you have any of the symptoms and before you are offered an expensive occlusal splint speak to a physiotherapist who has specific training and a special interest in the TMJ!

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