Have you been experiencing pain in your jaw joint? Are you finding it difficult to open your mouth wide? You may be suffering from TMJ dysfunction. While this condition can be frustrating and uncomfortable, the treatments available can help you get relief.
One such treatment is osteopathy. Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy that can help ease TMJ dysfunction symptoms. Osteopathy is a holistic approach that considers all aspects of your health, and it may be just what you need to get relief from your TMJ pain.
What is TMJ dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the main joint in your jaw. It is one of your body's most frequently used joints. It participates in daily activities such as chewing, talking and yawning. In fact, you use your TMJ every time you move your mouth.
Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) refers to conditions affecting the jaw and surrounding muscles. TMD is an unexpected and painful ailment that can be a significant issue for sufferers because there is little opportunity to rest your jaw, even if it hurts. This is due to the fact that we use our jaws for so many vital functions throughout the day.
Common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction
The following are the most common TMD symptoms:
- When you move your jaw, you hear clicking and popping sounds.
- The jaw gets locked
- Chewing difficulties and yawning
- Pain in the front or behind the ear
- Neck pain
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
Common causes of TMJ dysfunction
TMJ dysfunction is a broad term to describe issues with this joint. Many structures in and around the joint, including the muscles, joint surfaces, and a small disc that sits inside, can cause problems.
Muscle imbalances are common and can cause stiffness or pain (or both) when you open and close your mouth.
There are several possible reasons for tight muscles in the neck area, including jaw trauma (such as when you are punched or hit your chin after a fall), clenching while sleeping (called bruxism), poor posture, and neck dysfunction, or dental problems such as an uneven bite.
People who are highly stressed frequently clench their jaws while sleeping, which can result in waking up with a sore jaw or headaches.
A small disc slides and moves inside the joint during jaw movements. Sometimes this disc can become "displaced" and may not slide and move as smoothly as it should. This frequently results in a jaw that clicks or cracks when opening the mouth.
The click is generally painless, but some people may experience pain in addition to the click. In severe cases, the jaw may temporarily lock, which would be highly distressing to experience.
Jaw joint pain can occasionally manifest as ear pain.
Osteopathy treatment for TMJ dysfunction
Osteopaths are known for taking a comprehensive approach to examination and treatment. Seeing as TMD is rarely an isolated problem, your jaw, neck, head, shoulders, and upper body may need to be examined and treated if they are contributing to your TMD symptoms.
Osteopathic manual therapy relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and restores function. As the earliest form of intervention, this type of TMD treatment should be administered as soon as symptoms appear.
Your osteopath will do the following to relieve your TMJ pain:
- Apply soft tissue techniques that will loosen and release tight muscles that connect to the jaw and cause tension and pain.
- Treat jaw movement restrictions and help to restore proper TMJ movement and biomechanics.
- Correct poor neck and upper back posture, which may be causing tightness and joint restriction in the muscles and joints surrounding and affecting the jaw indirectly.
- Advise on stretches and exercises that may help relieve pain and prevent recurrence of symptoms.
Can an osteopath realign my jaw?
Osteopaths have several techniques that can be used to relieve tension and realign the jaw and its associated structures. We've discovered that it responds exceptionally well; most people report a significant improvement in symptoms, pain and realignment.
If misalignment is caused by postural or muscular issues, osteopathic treatment can help to alleviate your symptoms and relax any jaw muscle spasms.
Final thoughts on TMJ Dysfunction and Osteopathy
Relief is available if you're one of many suffering from TMJ dysfunction. Osteopathic treatment is an effective way to relieve pain and restore function. Osteopathic care is tailored specifically to each individual and can relieve many people who have had little success with other treatments.
The most crucial aspect of any injury is determining the correct diagnosis, so please consult with one of our experienced osteopaths at Foundation Health if you think you may be suffering from TMJ dysfunction.
You can get back to living a healthy, happy life with proper diagnosis and treatment.