Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) can be defined as pain and restricted movement in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and around the jaw area. There are many potential causes of TMJ pain, as well as many potential treatments. However, the pain and discomfort associated with TMD can often be alleviated with medical treatments that aren’t all that serious. One of the best ways to treat TMD is through the use of physical therapy. Physical therapy is not as invasive as other options like surgery but can effectively treat your pain and discomfort. So how exactly can TMJ physical therapy help your pain and discomfort? Let’s take a look.
A common cause of TMJ pain stems from bad posture. Bad posture has increasingly become a major problem in the world. People are spending more time hunched over their computers and phones. Sitting or standing in the same bad posture for extended periods of time can have many negative effects on your body, including causing TMJ pain. Having your head in an awkward position consistently can strain areas like your jaw, causing lots of pain. A physical therapist can provide you with tips and exercises designed to improve your posture, making your TMJ pain disappear after awhile.
Targeted Exercise Routines
When you think of physical therapy, you likely immediately think of various exercises designed to reduce pain and increase range of motion. Well, using physical therapy to help fight against TMJ pain isn’t that different. Exercises and manual therapy can help stretch your jaw, allowing it to be less stiff and move more freely. In addition, some of the exercises that a physical; therapist will give you can help strengthen your jaw area, lessening the strain it experiences. As your jaw muscles strengthen, not only should the pain lessen, but you should also be able to move your jaw much more freely.
If the pain stemming from your TMD is too severe, then there are some other options that a physical therapist can explore. One of the more effective pain relief options is ultrasound treatment. You may have heard about ultrasounds for prenatal appointments, but they also can be effective in combating pain. When used to fight TMJ pain, ultrasound waves can provide near-immediate relief, relaxing the muscles, and reducing pain. Ultrasound waves can be a great way to decrease joint stiffness and promote healing, making it a fantastic tool in the fight against TMJ pain.
In cases where your TMJ pain is extreme, a physical therapist may be able to help by referring you to a dentist or other medical professional. A cause of TMJ pain could be problems in your teeth alignment, which can be extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, a physical therapist can fully cure the cause of your problem. However, a physical therapist will refer you to a dental professional that can solve your problem. Many insurance companies require referrals to pay for any treatment, so this referral may be necessary to be able to receive treatment.