WHAT IS TMD? DO I HAVE IT? BY DR. COURTNEY BUMGARNER, PT, DPT
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or dysfunction, (TMD) is a common condition that effects the normal functions of the jaw, such as mouth opening, yawning, and chewing. It currently affects more than 10 million people in the United States. It is often incorrectly referred to as simply “TMJ,” which represents the name of the joint itself (temporomandibular joint). TMD affects more women than
• Fracture. In a traumatic accident involving the face or head, a fracture to the lower jaw may result and cause TMD. Even when the fracture is fully healed, TMJ stiffness and pain may remain. • Surgery. Individuals may experience a loss of TMJ mobility and function following certain kinds of surgery to the face and jaw. • Articular Disc Dysfunction without reduction (also can be referred to as lockjaw) This condition—where the jaw muscles spasm and the jaw cannot be fully opened—can be both a cause and a symptom of TMD. Other causes of trismus include trauma to the jaw, tetanus, and radiation therapy to the face and neck. • Articular Disc Dysfunction with reduction of the disc or soft- tissue cushion located between the ball and socket of the TMJ, which causes popping or clicking of the jaw and, frequently, pain. The symptoms of TMD can be temporary or last for years. Jaw pain is the most common symptom. TMD can cause the jaw to lock or get stuck in a certain position. You may experience headaches, feel pain when chewing certain foods, or have difficulty fully opening your mouth. Physical therapy in most cases is very effective for the resolution of these symptoms. To identify the cause of your symptoms your physical therapist will perform a detailed evaluation to determine the contributory factors to your particular case and will develop a treatment plan to improve your function and decrease your symptoms. If you are experiencing TMJ pain and/or headache and neck pain, seek care from a physical therapist today!
men and is most often diagnosed in individuals aged 20 to 40 years old. The contributing causes range from poor posture, clenching of the jaw, stiffness of the neck, poor teeth alignment, or trauma to the jaw. The muscles around the jaw can also spasm and reduce the opening of the mouth. Physical therapists can help people with TMD ease pain, regain normal jaw movement, and lessen daily stress on the jaw to improve their quality of life. TMD can be caused by: • Posture. One of the reasons TMD is so common is because many of us spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk, where we often hold our heads too far forward as we work. The “forward head position” puts a strain on the muscles, disk, and ligaments of the TMJ. In this position the jaw muscles are constantly forced to fire and the chewing muscles become overused. • Jaw clenching and/or grinding (“bruxism”). Many people clench or grind their teeth at night while they sleep, usually because of stress. Some clench their teeth throughout the day as well, especially when dealing with stressful situations. This puts a strain on the TMJ and its surrounding muscles. • Problems with teeth alignment (“malocclusion”). If your teeth are positioned in an unusual way, greater stress is placed on the TMJ when performing everyday jaw motions, such as chewing.
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