What are the Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ)
The Temporomandibular joints are located on either side of your head, directly in front of your ears. These joints work simultaneously enabling you to breath, swallow, speak, bite, chew, yawn, sing, yell and express yourself sexually.
The jaw can not only open and close, but also move side to side, front and back. These motions are necessary for biting into food and chewing to break down food sufficiently, before we swallow. Biting and chewing are possible because of 4 powerful muscles, the muscles of mastication.
The Temporomandibular joints are ball and socket joints with a disc positioned in between. The disc acts as a cushion absorbing the compressive forces during jaw function. The disc also helps to stabilize the joint. Holding all these moving parts together and providing additional joint stability are the joint capsule and ligaments.
What is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular Disorders represent one category of Jaw and Facial Pain and dysfunction. We divide the Temporomandibular Disorders into muscular and joint type disorders. The majority of Temporomandibular Disorders involve the jaw and even the neck muscle. Joint type problems without muscular involvement are rare. Most Disorders present as a combination.
Muscle type Temporomandibular Disorders are:
- Muscle spasm
- Myofascial restrictions and Trigger Points
- Muscle inflammation
Joint type Temporomandibular Disorders are:
- Joint inflammation (Capsulitis/Synovitis/Retro-discitis)
- Intermittent Disc Displacement: jaw joint clicking or popping
- Disc Displacement: jaw locking closed or open
H&D Physical Therapy provides treatment to patients who have undergone TMJ or Orthognathic Surgery. There can be pain and difficulties with jaw function for a period of time following the surgery. This is a common occurrence and can be successfully treated by a Physical Therapist, who has specialized education and training in treating TMJ Pain and Disorders. Our team of Physical Therapists is uniquely qualified to address the symptoms frequently seen after surgery, such as swelling, pain, inability to open the jaw, chew or difficulty with speaking. We will guide you during your recovery and carefully facilitate the best post-surgical outcome.
The ultimate goals of addressing TMJ issues after surgery, are to eliminate or at least to decrease pain and optimize your jaw function, allowing you to experience a better quality of life.
What Can I Expect from Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy goals and expectations are different for every person that walks through our door. Pivotal Physical Therapy specializes in devising a treatment plan and goals that address all of your concerns, whether it be the ability to wake up without pain from clenching, or ability to eat your favorite meal at a restaurant. Our treatments help New Yorkers discover reliable methods for easing your pain levels and educating you towards self-management. We can help with:
- Swelling reduction
- Pain relief
- Increasing jaw range of motion needed for speaking, yawning, singing, sexual expression and dental work.
- Regaining essential strength, stability and control of the facial, jaw and neck muscles
- Restoring normal jaw functions, such as biting and chewing
- Decreasing jaw tension, daytime clenching and bruxing
- Improving posture
- Optimize positioning for sleeping and leisure