Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition that can cause pain and limits normal functions like opening the mouth and chewing. TMD can be caused by: bad postural habits, chronic jaw clenching, problems with teeth alignment, "lockjaw", displacement, arthritis, and other things.
You may experience headaches, feel pain when chewing certain foods, have difficulty fully opening your mouth, or hear popping sounds in your jaw.
Many people do not know that physical therapists are able to examine and treat for many of these symptoms related to TMD. Your PT will evaluate your posture and observe how your cervical spine moves, as well as if there are any abnormalities in your jaw motion. If your PT determines there is a dysfunction in any of these areas, there are many treatment methods that may be used. Treatments may include: posture education, improving jaw movement, special pain treatments (ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, dry needling, etc.), or if your problem is an alignment issue, you will be referred to a dentist who specializes in TMD.
General tips in preventing TMD problems:
- Place any work you are focusing on directly in front of you and not off to the side.
- Avoid repetitive chewing, such as chewing gum.
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid eating hard or chewy foods.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which forces the neck to rotate to one direction.
Come in for a visit to see if your pain can be alleviated by trying dry needling!