Nightingale Health Services

What is the TMJ or Temporomandibular (Jaw pain)?

TMJ is the abbreviated description of the Temporomandibular Joint, commonly referred to as the jaw. Injury to the area due to various causes often results in unpleasant and painful symptoms which can be masked as other conditions. The TMJ may be painful as the result of injury, inflammatory disease, poor postures and habits or growth disorders.

Normal function of your jaw requires good TMJ alignment and normal disc position The TMJ is made up of several parts: the lower jaw (or mandible) and the socket (or temporal bone). In between the mandible and the socket is a disc. The disc allows the joint to glide smoothly on opening and closing. The joint is also held in place by muscles and ligaments. When an issue occurs in these structures, the patient may begin experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the jaw joints and facial muscles
  • Clicking, grinding or locking of the jaw
  • Headache pain into face, temples, eyes, or base of skull
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth comfortably
  • Pain on talking, chewing (especially hard food) & yawning
  • Ear pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) & hearing loss.

What causes TMJ pain?

There are a number of causes and frequently it is a combination of these rather than one single cause:

  • Trauma, for example a blow to the jaw either directly to the joint or elsewhere on the jaw.
  • Over activity of the jaw muscles from continuous grinding of the teeth or clenching the jaw.
  • Poor posture and ergonomic habits resulting in abnormal loading and strain on the neck musculature.
  • Wear and tear of the cartilage inside in the joint
  • Arthritis
  • Stress linked to increased sensitivity to pain

How can physiotherapy help?

Our home physiotherapists will evaluate your facial symmetry, TMJ position, and disc alignment. We use manual therapy, myofascial release, dry needling and therapeutic exercise to help restore neutral TMJ position, alleviate pain, decrease stiffness and normalise TMJ function and mobility. A full assessment of the cervical spine and musculature and general posture of the patient will also be conducted and the relevant modifications and treatments can begin.