Do you have a sore jaw?
Does your jaw click?
Do you grind your teeth?
Did you know physio’s can treat jaws?
The Jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a really interesting joint that is very often forgotten in everyday physiotherapy. The TMJ is unique because it is like two joints in one and contains some exceptionally strong ligaments and muscles. The joint is almost split in half by an intra articular disc that allows it to open and close as well as side shift and protract and retract, all to allow us to eat, drink and talk more effectively. In a normal healthy jaw, you should be able to fit 3 fingers with your hand turned to the side into your mouth; this is average maximum jaw opening for you. Any less that 2 fingers could indicate a problem and you may have trouble eating! In my research as part of my PhD I look a lot at what is normal in the TMJ and compare that with the facial muscles. Particularly, I have been researching position sense in the lower face and TMJ to explore how physio’s can retrain faces and TMJs more effectively after injury.
The most common causes of TMJ related conditions I see in the clinic include people who grind their teeth at night (bruxism), or clench their jaw lots during the day when stressed or anxious, people with braces (we can help manage tightness) and because of my tae kwon do back ground (and personal experience) I have seen some people after direct trauma (usually kicks and punches) to the face.
TMJ issues can result in painful clicking when eating or opening your mouth, teeth occlusion problems, headaches, ear pain, and noise in the ears and even locking when the disc becomes inflamed. Therapeutically, we can use lots of hands on techniques and exercises to help treat the TMJ and the awesome part is that with lots of these conditions we can teach the patients to do the exercises themselves to self manage. We also try to work closely with dentists as this is an area of overlap and sometimes, especially for grinders, a mouth guard or splint at night can be part of the solution in fixing the problem.
If you feel you are suffering from any of the conditions above then please contact Eliie at SquareOne Physiotherapy on 9968 3424 and she will be more than happy to answer your questions.