The Temporomandibular joint disorder is a group of disorders that involves the temporomandibular joints, which are located between the temporal bone of the skull and the mandible or jaw bone as well as the muscle and associated structures that are involved in chewing and speech.
Causes of TMJ disorder can be intra-articular or may be extra-articular involving the surrounding musculature. Intra-articular causes include things like- abnormalities of the bones and joint inflammation from conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, laxity of the fibrocartilage, or trauma that may result in structural damage or bleeding inside the joint.
Extra-articular causes include things like overuse of the masticatory muscles as well as chronic muscle spasm, muscle inflammation, or due to injury of Myofascial, etc.
The main symptom of TMJ disorder is pain or tenderness, especially with the movement of the jaw like when chewing. The pain can also radiate causing headaches toothaches and earaches. It can also cause jaw dysfunction and a limited range of jaw motion where the jaw catches or locks in a certain position, there can also be clicking or popping noises when moving the jaw.
Treatment of TMJ disorder includes:
The initial goal is to help reduce pain and restore normal jaw function.
Pain can be reduced by applying moist heat or cold compresses as well as using massage to rest the muscle by eating a softer diet and avoiding strain on the jaw.
Physiotherapy for TMJ disorder includes:
Stretching of neck muscles- put one hand underneath you while sitting, and take the other hand to your head and pull gently to the side, try to keep your head in the neutral position. This is for the stretching of the upper trapezius muscles. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Do it for both sides.
Active stretching of neck muscles- keep your head in the upright neutral position, and turn your head to one side. Hold that for about 3-5 seconds, and then turn back. Another active stretching is looking up toward the ceiling, and coming back down.
Massaging of the muscle of the jaw- take your 3 fingers, and place them on your cheeks, push in, and then up, do this for 1-2 minutes.
Massaging of temporalis- take 3 fingers and place them on your temples, now pushing in with your fingers, and with this make a little bit of a circular motion.
Isometric exercises- the first exercise is that you are going to put the palm underneath your jaw, and you are going to push upward with 20-30% pressure. So that you are not moving the jaw, but you are activating those jaw muscles. do this with a 3-5 seconds hold and 5 repetitions.
The next exercise is pulling down your jaws.
Pushing the jaw inward or one side.
Apart from all these a physiotherapist uses several techniques to relieve your TMJ disorder like-
Extracorporeal shockwave, etc.