Musculoskeletal disorders involving the jaw are commonly known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). TMD affects 10-15% of adults and is often associated with jaw degenerative changes. People with TMD often report jaw pain, facial pain, clicking, decreased range of mouth opening and joint locking during activities such as yawning and chewing. In some cases, people with TMD may also notice their teeth clenching or feel their teeth grinding. Upon reporting these symptoms, TMD sufferers are typically directed to the nearest dentist for an occlusion splint by their doctors.
However, TMD is often associated with other musculoskeletal symptoms such as neck pain, neck tightness and headache resulting from prolonged poor sitting posture. Poor neck posture has been demonstrated to alter jaw muscle and joint mechanics which could abnormally increase jaw loading resulting in jaw pain. Additionally, increased stress level, anxiety and increased oral activity besides eating; such as chewing gum or nail biting, can increase jaw muscle activity resulting in TMD symptoms. Thus, splinting the jaw does not always target the source of TMD.
See Your Physio!
Physiotherapists are experts in diagnosing and managing TMD-related symptoms and sources. Currently, there is emerging evidence that many TMD presentations respond well to manual (hands-on) therapy such as joint mobilization, joint distraction and jaw and neck exercises. Exercise has been demonstrated to improve pain and jaw range of motion faster than occlusion splints in people with TMD. Additionally, physiotherapists may advise TMD patients on lifestyle changes regarding to jaw usage and educate TMD patients on self-management strategies.
Physiotherapists play an integral role in the management of TMD patients. Timely physiotherapy intervention of people with TMD can lead to superior clinical outcomes and greater satisfaction. Motion Health Physiotherapists strive to work closely with you to ensure optimum recovery of your TMD. Please contact us or call 9825 2697 should you or someone you know require help with this condition.