Do you Grind your teeth? Do you notice yourself clenching your jaw throughout the day? Is your jaw pain getting on your nerves?

You may have TMD. Temporomandibular dysfunction.

What is TMD?

Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is the one that connects your jaw to your skull. It allows you to open your mouth to speak, eat, yawn etc.

TMD is an umbrella term for structural and functional disorders in the TMJ and the muscles in the head and neck that support and surround it. 

Dysfunction commonly presents as:

  • Pain in teeth, jaw or neck
  • Headaches,
  • Jaw locking 
  • Jaw clicking
  • difficulty opening mouth and chewing
  • Muscle spasms & stiffness

What causes TMD? 

Many factors cause the TMJ can become dysfunctional. They can be biological, chemical, anatomical, behavioural, emotional, environmental in nature.

Some examples that can contribute to this neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction include

  • Work posture 
  • Phone/ device use 
  • Stress
  • Jaw clenching/ grinding 
  • spinal misalignment
  • nerve referral 
  • Mechanical dysfunction
  • Trauma or injury to the area. 
  • Arthritis
  • Issues within the Joint (eg, the articular disc, or ligaments)

You may be thinking that some of these explanations sound like what you’ve experienced. You may have even sought out treatment for these in the past. But, did they work for you? Or did you think that you had to learn to live with the pain? Good news, you can fix it. 

These are some of the common treatments available for helping TMD:

  • Manual therapy (Chiropractic, Osteopathy)
  • Medication
  • Oral appliances (Mouth guard)
  • Soft tissue therapy (physiotherapy, myotherapy) 
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
  • Behavioural treatments

A recent research paper compared the effectiveness of at-home therapy vs. combined manual therapy and Home therapy.

These are the main takeaways you should know:

  1. No one in the study required any pharmaceutical intervention. Meaning – no medication was needed!
  2. There were NO adverse effects from anyone. = Safe and effective
  3. Researchers saw improvement in pain scores for every participant. But they saw the most significant improvement in the combined Manual + home therapy.
  4. Researchers saw improvement in pain-free maximal mouth opening (ability to open mouth without pain).
  5. Manual therapy improved by 25%-55% over just home therapy alone.

So why is manual therapy necessary here? Over time there was a significantly more improvement in the manual therapy + home therapy group than the home therapy group alone. Why? Manual therapy may influence pain signals through the brain to cells communication (neurophysiological effects), and joint mobility through brain to muscle communication (neuromuscular mechanisms).

So what does this mean? Well, simply put, the pain you have been feeling in your jaw can be improved! Get in contact with me below to learn more or book an appointment with me to get started on fixing your jaw pain now!

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Tuncer AB, Ergun N, Tuncer AH, Karahan S. Effectiveness of manual therapy and home physical therapy in patients with temporomandibular disorders: A randomized controlled trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013;17(3):302-308. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.10.006

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