Fix Your TMJ And Jaw Problems!
Physical Therapists Treat Jaw Problems
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. TMJ has become a catch-all term for any jaw joint related issue. When left untreated, TMJ can progress to TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder or disease). Dentists are not the only health professionals who address TMJ problems. They may, though, be the first to diagnose it as they can see signs of bruxism or teeth grinding as the molars get worn down, but this can be the case without even any signs or symptoms of a TMJ problem. Root Cause Physical Therapy knows exactly how to address TMJ.
You may not even be aware that you are holding tension in your jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. But, physical therapists often see a pattern of jaw tension and/or pain with headaches, neck pain, and stiffness.
Where do You Hold Your Tension?
It is very common to hold tension in our neck and shoulder muscles. This easily gets transferred up into the jaw muscles as well. Think about it. When we’re stressed, tense, uptight – isn’t it common to clench your jaw, even a little bit?
Even if you’re not aware of clenching, the relative difference in facial muscle tension between the muscle that closes the jaw and other facial muscles can create a situation in which you may “grind your teeth” during sleep unconsciously.
The Jaw is a Very Busy Joint
The jaw joints (there are two, right and left) are perhaps the most used joints in the human body – think eating and talking, singing, and chewing. They have a disc in them which moves as the joints open and close. With increased tension, the joint space reduces much like disc degeneration in the spine. This can irritate the joints causing inflammation and pain. The disc can become displaced causing locking of the jaw, or an inability to open it very widely. The clicking of one or both jaw joints can become common, and a sign of a misaligned jaw. This is where Root Cause physical therapy can be very successful in restoring normal function to your jaw.
A common injury in an auto accident is whiplash. This occurs when the head moves rapidly forward and backward stretching and straining the neck and upper back, causing joint injuries. Depending on the angle of impact, a similar injury can happen to the jaw.
The jaw is hinged to the skull at both sides. With a rapid movement of the head in an auto accident (or other similar trauma such as a fall or jarring injury), the head and jaw can move at different speeds and in different directions causing a whiplash (‘whipjaw’) type of injury to one or both jaw joints.
Don’t Ignore Your Jaw
If you have been diagnosed with TMJ or TMD, or if you experience teeth grinding, jaw clicking, or painful jaw joints, please have them checked out by a physical therapist and/or chiropractor. Much the same as any other bone in the body, the jaw can be adjusted by a chiropractor to help reposition it and reduce jaw stress and pain.
At Root Cause physical therapy, we use manual manipulation and exercise therapy to help with jaw-related problems. Working on the jaw directly can often help reduce symptoms in a “stress syndrome pattern” that includes the head, neck, shoulder, and jaw.
We work with dentists often and will happily work in tandem with yours. With TMJ problems a dentist may provide you with a mouth guard to both protect your teeth from wearing down in addition to acting as a spacer or realignment tool to reduce jaw misalignments. While this is helpful, in conjunction with Root Cause physical therapy that re-balances the joint along with its related muscles and tendons, it is found to be a faster and more effective approach. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to be evaluated. We are happy to help you, your friends, and your family.
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Dr. Vikki Petersen DC. CCN
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr Vikki Petersen is a public speaker, author of two books, several eBooks and creates cutting edge content for her YouTube community. Dr Vikki is committed to bringing Root Cause Medicine and its unique approach to restoring health naturally to the world.