The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint that articulates (connects) the mandible (or jaw bone) to your skull. This joint contains a small padded disc that acts to protect the surfaces in contact with each other. This joint is in constant motion as we depress, protrude, elevate and laterally move our jaw through-out the day when we speak, eat/chew, yawn, sneeze, smile, laugh etc.
Often times, because of high levels of stress and or anxiety, patients will clench their jaw during sleep or during the day and not even realize they are doing it. This strong pressure and force being exerted to the jaw muscles and joints cause extreme imbalances of the tissues surrounding the joint.
With time, the muscle imbalance starts to affect the way in which the joint is supposed to function. This improper joint motion then begins to wear away at the disc and the joint becomes inflamed and painful. Many patients will complain of popping, and locking of the jaw. TMJ pain can be mild to severe and effect one or both sides of the jaw.
Most patients will be prescribed a night-guard from their dentist which aids in preventing further damage to teeth during nightly clenching and grinding. Depending on the individual, this can help alleviate their jaw pain or make it worse. Some patients tend to bight down and clench even harder when they have something to bite down on during sleep.
Our doctors at lakeside treat TMJ dysfunction and pain in several different ways. First, we examine the jaw and musculature around the joints to determine where imbalances and trigger points occur. We will then use manual therapy techniques such as pin and stretch, intra-oral muscle stripping, and potentially dry needling to reduce tight muscle tissue and allow the jaw to function properly during normal use. Specific MDT (McKenzie) exercises may be prescribed to help balance the actual joints themselves. Our massage therapist, Ken, also has special training in facial massage and TMJ work.
The goal with any treatment is to help prevent the problem from coming back, so the doctors may also provide some therapy to reduce stress. Examples of this could include acupuncture, recommendations on nightly routines to reduce involuntary night clenching, and supplementation to aid in healing.
If you or anyone you know is suffering with TMJ, come in and let one of our skilled providers asses and treat this common and painful condition.
What to take from this post:
- Due to high levels of stress and or anxiety, jaw clenching can occur. This strong pressure and force being exerted to the jaw muscles and joints cause extreme imbalances of the tissues surrounding the joint.
- This improper joint motion then begins to wear away at the disc and the joint becomes inflamed and painful.
- TMJ treatment at Lakeside can consist of manual therapy techniques, dry needling, specific MDT (McKenzie) exercises and facial massage.