Temporomandibular joint disorders are very common. An estimated one-third of the population experiences symptoms of the TMJ at any given time. However, that doesn’t mean that TMD is just something that you have to learn to live with. TMJ physical therapy treatment may be able to relieve your symptoms completely so that you can enjoy your normal activities without pain or dysfunction.
“What is involved in physical therapy near me for TMJ disorder?” you may be asking yourself. The first step is for your physical therapist to do an assessment to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms and confirm that they originate in the joint.
The next step is to figure out the exact cause of your symptoms. TMD has several possible causes, and your physical therapist may recommend different treatments based on the source of your symptoms.
Assessment of Posture
Do you sit or stand with your shoulders rounded down and your head forward? If so, you’re not alone. Many people assume this posture when using computers or other electronic devices, and eventually, it becomes habitual. Nevertheless, these postural abnormalities may subject your temporomandibular joints to excessive stress, which can result in chronic strain.
“What can a physical therapist near me do about my posture?” you may be wondering. The first thing your therapist will do is assess your posture to determine whether it might be the cause of your symptoms. If this seems likely, your therapist can then teach you exercises to improve your posture. If your posture is the source of your TMD, this should be effective at both relieving your symptoms and preventing them from coming back.
Jaw Mobilization Exercises
Sometimes the cause of TMD is a dislocation of a structure within the jaw joint. If this is the case, then your physical therapist may be able to correct the condition by using TMJ mobilization to put the dislocation back in place. While wearing gloves, the therapist will use his or her hands to manually mobilize the jaw. This procedure requires the therapist to put his or her fingers in your mouth, which may be a little uncomfortable.
If a TMJ mobilization helps to restore normal motion of your jaw, your therapist may then teach you exercises to improve and maintain normal jaw motion. It is important that you perform these exercises while maintaining proper alignment of your jaw; otherwise, they won’t do much good. Your therapist may ask you to perform these exercises in front of a mirror so you can make sure that you are doing them correctly.
The cause of your TMD may be spasms or tension in the muscles of your face, jaw, neck, or even shoulders. Therapeutic massage for TMD helps to relax these muscles. It also stimulates blood flow, which helps to heal any long-term damage that constant tension or spasm may have done to the muscles.
Depending on what is causing your TMD, your treatment plan may include any or all of these techniques. A physical therapist can create a customized plan to address your needs.