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TMJ

"TMJ: is an abbreviation for the Temporomandibular Joint, the hinge joint more commonly known as the jaw. This joint, located slightly in front of each ear, is composed of the temporal bone, the mandible, and the disc. This sliding joint, capable of great flexibility, allows for the jaw to be moved by the facial muscles in a wide range of directions." —Dr. Kessler.

The adaptability of the TMJ to facilitate motion enables us to talk, chew, and swallow as we please. Problems occur when the ligaments holding the two bones of the TMJ are damaged, causing a dislocation of the cartilage disc in between. This dislocation can cause uneven movement of the lower jaw, and/or pain of the TMJ. Possible Causes:

  • Trauma: The most common cause of TMJ problems is trauma to the facial region. This can mean any direct impact to the jaw, ranging from a physical strike by a hand, or whiplash in a car.
  • Overextension: Opening the mouth too wide can put strain on the TMJ, sometimes to the point that it is overextended and the disc is dislodged.
  • Bruxism: This is the excessive grinding of the teeth, which inflicts stress upon the TMJ and can injure the ligaments holding them in place.
  • Orthodontics: Although there is no scientific study as of yet that directly proves that orthodontic treatment, i.e. braces, causes problems with the TMJ, many people have reported TMJ pain immediately after orthodontic treatment. This may be due to malocclusion, the irregular arrangement of the teeth when the jaws are closed.
  • Ligament Laxity: When the ligaments around a joint are loose, problems with normal movement can arise. Loose ligaments holding the TMJ in place can be detrimental and cause problems with the normal functioning of the jaw.
  • Stress: Chronic stress has the ability to affect the whole body, including the TMJ. Stress often causes the muscles in the jaw to unusually tighten, which perpetuates the symptoms of TMJ.
  • Systemic Diseases: There are also a number of diseases that can cause or worsen the symptoms of TMJ. The most common are amidst immune disorders and viral infections.

Symptoms

TMJ clicking, TMJ locking, popping, headache, ear symptoms (ear pain, stuffiness, loss of hearing), teeth sensitivity, and change in bite. Symptoms vary from person to person; some have all the above symptoms, while some only have a few. In general, problems with the TMJ cause pain to the TMJ, ears, face, teeth, and head.

Treatment

A multidimensional approach to treating TMJ problems is required if one wants to feel immediate pain relief and ultimately to rectify the underlying problems causing the pain. At Spine and Sports, our physical therapists use a hands-on approach with manual therapy, by first evaluating the body's symmetry. Though TMJ pain manifests itself primarily in the orofacial region, misalignments throughout the rest of the body can aggravate the symptoms, or in some cases be the cause of it. With close examination, we locate any dysfunctional areas and work on restoring alignment, mobility, and balance. By reinstating equilibrium to the body, the delicate TMJ is more apt to align and stay in place. Additionally, we use deep muscle therapy, postural correction, phonophoresis (ultrasound), iontophoresis, heat and cold compresses, massage, and therapeutic exercises and stretches to ensure a restorative and permanent recovery.

If you suffer from TMJ or think you might, call us now to make an immediate appointment (212 986-3888). Delaying treatment can cause it to worsen. Our office is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan, Madison Avenue and 40th Street. Most insurance covers TMJ.

Schedule an appointment today.

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