What is TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint) Dysfunction?

written by Marie-Michelle Lafontaine, Physiotherapist and Andrea Grant, Physiotherapist

In North America, more than 20% of the population suffers from TMJ dysfunction. The TMJ is the joint of the jaw, the most used joint in the human body. Many structures influence the TMJ directly, such as the skull bones, the cervical spine (neck), the muscles and the fascia.

What are the symptoms?

When the TMJ is dysfunctional, symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the jaw or neck;
  • Difficulty chewing, yawning, and/or talking;
  • Headaches;
  • Limited jaw opening or closing;
  • Neck stiffness;
  • Clicking, popping or other noises in the jaw joint; and/or
  • Grinding or clenching.

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

There are many potential causes of TMJ dysfunction, including:

  • Cervical spine dysfunction – in fact, 70% of people with TMJ dysfunction also have upper neck dysfunction;
  • Posture – forward head posture affects muscle control, TMJ position and how you move your jaw;
  • Forced opening of the mouth;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Uncoordinated muscle use;
  • Whiplash;
  • Impact to the upper body;
  • Concussion; and/or
  • Stress.

What is the treatment?

At Element Therapeutics, we have physiotherapists and registered massage therapists who have completed post-graduate training to treat symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.  With your consent, we collaborate with your dentist or doctor to help you reduce your pain and regain function of your jaw and neck.

Physiotherapists use a combination of hands-on treatments (such as joint mobilization and muscle release techniques), electrotherapy, postural training, needling, and customized home exercise programs.  Our Registered Massage Therapists use muscle release and relaxation techniques. Both physiotherapy and massage may include intra-oral techniques.

 

For more information or to book an appointment, call Element Therapeutics at 250-344-6654.