What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition that limits the natural function of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing, and can cause pain. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ear. The TMJ guides jaw movement and allows you to open and close your mouth and move it from side to side to talk, yawn, or chew. TMD can be caused by:
Bad posture habits. One of the reasons TMD is so common is because many of us spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk, where we often hold our heads too far forward as we work. But there are many other kinds of bad posture. Sitting in the car for a long commute, working at a checkout station, always carrying your child on the same hip—all can place the head in an awkward position and cause jaw problems. The "forward head position" puts a strain on the muscles, disk, and ligaments of the TMJ. The jaw is forced to "rest" in an opened position, and the chewing muscles become overused.
Chronic jaw clenching ("bruxism"). Many people clench their jaws at night while they sleep, usually because of stress. This puts a strain on the TMJ and its surrounding muscles.
Displacement of the disc or soft-tissue cushion located between the ball and socket of the TMJ, which causes popping or clicking of the jaw and, frequently, pain.
Arthritis in the TMJ.
How can a physiotherapist help?
Your physical therapist can help you restore the natural movement of your jaw and decrease your pain. Based on your condition, your therapist will select treatments that will work best for you. Visit your physiotherapist to see what treatments may include.
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