What is it?
The Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that might be better known to you as your jaw. The jaw is actually one of the most commonly used joints in the body and is active when speaking, chewing throughout the day and with minor movements. The fact that it is used so commonly can mean that dysfunction in this joint can have a devastating effect on quality of life, where simple tasks such as speaking or eating can become painful and difficult.
The joint connects the upper part of the joint (the maxilla) with the lower part (the mandible) and acts as a hinge that allows the mouth to open and close. There are some side-to-side movements and a small amount of movement forwards and backwards although the range of these movements is much smaller. Between the two bones, sits a small disc that provides support and increases congruency of the joint.
What can happen?
Like all joints, the TMJ can experience injury and dysfunction, including arthritis, dislocation, strain, muscle dysfunction and joint locking. The most common symptoms that indicate a problem include pain, clicking, popping, grinding, stiffness, weakness and limitations of movement.
For some people, due to the anatomy of their joint their jaw will make a popping noise when opening. While this can be annoying, research has shown that for most people this popping or clicking noise is relatively harmless and not necessarily an indication of a serious pathology.
For many people joint pain in the jaw is related to stress and clenching of the jaw. Teeth grinding during sleep can be a significant contributor to pain during the day that many people are completely unaware is occurring.
How Can Addlife Physiotherapy Help?
If you are experiencing jaw pain or dysfunction your physiotherapist is able to identify the issues that may be contributing to your dysfunction with analysis of muscle tension, joint alignment, sleeping habits, joint stiffness and resting muscle tension. They are able to assist with manual therapy to release tight muscles and restore movement to stiff joints, along with relaxation techniques and suggestions for night time splinting if necessary. If you are experiencing jaw pain or discomfort, speak to our physiotherapists at Addlife Physiotherapy who will be able to provide you with more information on your individual issue.
None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.