Can Seeing A Physical Therapist Cure My TMJ?

Let’s start with an explanation of what TMJ stands for. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is an abbreviation for Temporomandibular Joint. That’s a mouthful, which is why we abbreviate it to TMJ. It is the joint that helps your mouth to open and close as well as chew, and it is situated where your jaw, or mandible, attaches to your skull, in the region near your temples.

People often experience pain in this joint on one or both sides, describing it as pain in the chin, cheeks, teeth, or inside the ear opening. Since these systems are so close together, it’s not surprising that discomfort finds its way here as well. Chewing or opening and closing the mouth will cause discomfort, and in some cases, the joint can lock, making it difficult to move the jaw.

There are some things you should do right away if you experience jaw pain:

  • To relieve pain and inflammation, apply heat or ice.
  • Relax the muscles in your cheeks by massaging them.
  • Make an appointment with your dentist to ensure that your teeth and bite structure are in good working order.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

Your physical therapist will assist you in regaining normal jaw function and reducing pain. Your therapist will choose medications that are most effective for you based on your condition. Among your options for treatment are:

Posture Education. When you sit with your head tilted forward, you put more pressure on the muscles under your chin, causing the lower jaw to draw back and the mouth to open even when you’re relaxing, putting more strain on the TMJ. You may also be overworking your jaw muscles in order to keep your mouth from being open all the time. Your physical therapist will show you how to be respectful of your posture when sitting and walking so that you can strengthen the resting position of your chin, head, spine, breastbone, and shoulder blades.

Improving Jaw Movement. Physical therapists use skilled hands-on exercises (manual therapy) to help muscles and joints function more freely and alleviate pain. Manual therapy can be used to stretch the jaw and regain normal joint and muscle flexibility, as well as to break up scar tissue (“adhesions”) that may form when there is constant damage.

Your physical therapist will give you special “low-load” exercises that will strengthen your jaw muscles and restore a more normal, pain-free motion without putting too much pressure on your TMJ.

Special Pain Treatments. If the pain is intense, your physical therapist can use electrical stimulation or ultrasound to help you feel better.

Referral to a Dentist. Your physical therapist may refer you to a dentist who specializes in TMD who can correct the alignment with special appliances, such as “bite guards,” that create a natural resting position to relax the TMJ, relieve pain, and improve jaw function.

Are You Looking for Relief From TMJ Dysfunction? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical neck pain relief and recovery therapies for TMJ Dysfunction.  Physical therapy is probably one of the most common interventions for TMJ disorder if you choose to stop taking pain-relieving drugs and use a more holistic method. A thorough examination will be performed on your neck, shoulder girdle, and thoracic spine at your initial consultation with Pace Physical Therapy to decide whether those structures are triggering your symptoms. One of our dedicated physical therapists from San Jose, CA, will then develop a care plan based on the extent of your symptoms and your particular needs. Our physical therapists are patient-centric and committed to your health, working hard to help you manage and eliminate symptoms. If you are in San Jose, CA suffering from the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, request an appointment at Pace Physical Therapy. Don’t suffer from jaw pain and stiffness any longer.