It is estimated that approximately 10 million Americans suffer from jaw pain and about 75% have symptoms related to jaw dysfunction.  

We have two TMJs (temporomandibular joints), which are the joints that connect the lower jaw (the mandible) to your skull. They are unique in the fact that they are the only pair of joints in the human body that work together as one unit.  

Due to the shared muscle attachments in the head and neck, problems with one or both TMJ can cause other symptoms such as headaches, ear pain and tooth pain. This is commonly referred to as TMJ dysfunction {TMD) and can be successfully managed with conservative treatments focused both on the symptoms as well as determining the cause.  

What causes TMD? 

There are many different things that can cause problems with your jaw such as:  

  • teeth clenching 
  • grinding teeth in sleep 
  • jaw injury 
  • long dental procedure 
  • poor sleep 
  • sleep apnea 
  • increased stress 

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain in the jaw and face
  • Headaches
  • Neck & upper back pain 
  • Difficulty opening your mouth or locking of the jaw 
  • Pain with eating/ chewing & yawning 
  • Painful noises such as clicking or popping in the jaw 
  • Ear pain, ringing or pressure 

Treatment Team:

First, we recommend you meet with your dentist and tell them if you a e having any symptoms associated with TMD. They can assess if you are clenching and/ or grinding your teeth. They may recom­mend an oral appliance to protect your teeth and prevent further damage.  

Next, a thorough examination, by a well trained physical therapist can then help identify any other causes of your symptoms and help provide long term pain relief.  

How Does PT Help?  

The goal of physical therapy is to deter­mine the cause of symptoms, reduce the pain and improve jaw function. Physical therapy sessions for your TMD and headaches may include:  

  • Manual therapy 
  • Dry needling 
  • Prescriptive therapeutic exercises 
  • Posture assessment 

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