When you think of physical therapy, you probably imagine an athlete rehabbing in a clinic from a sports injury like a torn Achilles or ACL. That’s certainly something we provide, but we also help patients with less acute types of injuries and health conditions. One area of your body that you may not realize responds well to physical therapy is your jaw and your temporomandibular joint. We’ve helped a number of patients put their jaw issues in the past, and we can do the same for you. Read on to learn more about the conditions we can correct and how physical therapy may be just what you need for your jaw discomfort.
Treating Jaw Conditions With Physical Therapy
Your temporomandibular joint is where your lower jaw connects to skull, and when something is awry with the joint, it’s classified as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD can cause a variety of symptoms, including jaw pain, difficulty chewing or yawning, a clicking or locking jaw, inhibited jaw movement and other problems in your head like ringing ears or headaches.
The good news is that temporomandibular disorders typically respond well to conservative treatment options like physical therapy. Physical therapy works to remobilize and strengthen the tissues and muscles in the area to help calm symptoms and resolve underlying issues. Because your temporomandibular joint is supported by a number of different soft tissues like muscles, cartilage, ligaments and intra-joint discs, strengthening these structures and working to destress the areas through posture changes can have a significant impact on their ability to function properly.
Besides strengthening the supportive structures around the joint, hands-on physical therapy can also fix TMJ problems by helping to restore normal movement patterns in the joint. Through specific exercises, we can help to restore normal joint motion and muscle movement in your jaw joint and the surrounding tissues. Small degenerative changes in our joints can alter the normal functioning movements, and over time this can lead to pain and discomfort. We can help work with you to restore normal joint movement, which oftentimes reduces or eliminates TMJ pain.
Finally, our therapists can help to relieve other upper body conditions that develop as a result of your temporomandibular joint disorder, like headaches or neck pain. Thousands of Americans deal with daily or weekly headaches that are caused by muscle tension in their jaw. TMD can create abnormal muscle stress in your jaw, and this stress can lead to one of the most common forms of headaches – the tension headache. Your physical therapist can work to destress muscle groups in and around the jaw to help eliminate muscle tension and relieve these tension headaches.
Similar techniques can be used to calm neck pain caused by muscle tension or soft tissue overstress. This is very beneficial for individuals who work at a desk or on a computer all day, because even though it may not feel like it, a lot of stress from your posture is being channeled through your neck and temporomandibular joint. Through simple posture changes and movement exercises, we can calm your neck and jaw pain.
Minnesota Physical Therapy Clinics
So if you’re dealing with jaw stiffness, jaw misalignment or general soreness in your mouth and jaw, consider talking to a physical therapist. Oftentimes we can help alleviate symptoms with just a few quick sessions. To learn more about what we can do for you, or to set up an appointment, connect with OrthoRehab Specialists today.
PT of Costa Rican National Soccer Team for 2007 World Cup in Victoria, CAN. Clinical Instructor for University of Minnesota Doctor of Physical Therapy Affiliations
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