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  • Physical Therapy for TMJ

    Filed under TMJ Treatment
    Jun 26

    In America alone perhaps as many as 10 million people suffer from inflammation of the jaw muscles, a condition known as TMJ. While it is not life-threatening, TMJ can be either an incredibly acute pain or a permanent dull ache that affects your quality of life. Fortunately, there are a number of TMJ exercises available which help to relieve discomfort.

    TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, and refers to inflammation of the joint which connects your jawbone to your skull. This is a busy part of your body, used many times each day.

    The reasons for the inflammation are not always clear, and there are a variety of TMJ treatments out there under the different disciplines of dentistry, neurology, physical therapy or even psychology.

    The approach to TMJ treatments will depend on the sort of physician that you see. However, it is generally recognized that while some pain relief is available through the use of drugs, this is not going to be cure for the problem. Permanent relief will usually be found by addressing the way that you are using your facial and jaw muscles, which is why people find that TMJ exercises can be so useful.

    We don’t realize it, but the way that we hold our bodies is shaped by our lifestyles. It might be that you spend a lot of time sitting in a particular position, such as at a desk in front of a computer. Or you might be under stress, causing you to grind your teeth. It’s possible that some damage to your teeth has caused you, unconsciously, to change the way in which you use your jaw.

    Any of these can result in you developing the TMJ condition, and it may take time before it fully presents itself. When it does the outcome can be pain in the jaw joints, with associated headaches and neck pain.

    TMJ exercises can help us to stretch and relax our muscles, bringing relief from the discomfort. Sometimes our muscles become taut and cannot relax, reducing the flow of blood, which results in pain. Deliberate gentle exercise relaxes the muscle, improving the flow of blood with its much-needed oxygen and its cleansing properties. Other TMJ exercises can help us to realign our body, dealing with bad habits of posture which, over time, have brought an onset of TMJ.

    One of these exercises consists of standing in front of a mirror (so you can see what you are doing).  Then open the left side of your mouth as wide as possible.  Then do the same thing with the right side of your mouth.  Repeat this 10 times.  It is normal to notice your moth pullling towards one side.

    A second exercise consists of opening your mouith.  When you feel the resistance in your jaw use your hand to gently help open your mouth a little wider.  Repeat this one 5 times.

    I both cases a hot towel or compress against the sides of your face will help relieve muscle pain. 

    Plenty of TMJ sufferers can testify to the benefits of a program of TMJ exercises. Not only has regular exercise brought relief or a cure, it has also avoided the need to pump chemicals into the body. It has also prevented the need for corrective surgery which, although appropriate in some circumstances, brings its own set of risks with it.

    If you are a TMJ sufferer it’s important to know that you can get help through exercise, and that such help is not difficult to find. It will improve your quality of life, reducing or eliminating the pain and fatigue that you have had to live with.

    Author: Ben S James

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