Some people experience this pain continuously for many years while others may only have a brief encounter. Other common features of TMJD can include neck pain, headaches, ear aches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, having a hard time chewing, and a jaw that gets stuck.
Because the TMJ is a joint, it is treated similarly to other muscular skeletal structures in the body. This can include ice, heat, medications and gentle stretching or massaging in the beginning. Symptoms lasting longer than 1-2 weeks warrant an appointment with a specialist who specifically rehabilitates TMJD. A TMJ chiropractor being recommended because most TMJ disorders are related to muscle and joint dysfunctions in the neck as well.
An initial assessment typically includes evaluation of the jaw range of motion, degree of clicking, amount of muscular tension in the jaw and neck, head posture and neck alignment. TMJ treatment consists of relieving the tension or restrictions within the jaw or neck. Some therapies for this may be stretches, myofascial release and possibly spinal manipulation.
As soon as tension subsides and the neck and jaw are loosened, a strengthening routine should begin. There are specific exercises of the head and neck that will keep the joints aligned to help prevent the TMJD from returning. Using functional rehabilitation, the specific imbalances can be identified. Improving neck posture is also extremely important because of neck and jaw connections. There are very easy to implement posture exercises that can be done at home.
Results can usually start to be noticed within 3-4 treatment sessions. Usually when treating TMJD, max benefits are noticed within 5-6 sessions. However, it is always encouraged that patients continue working with improving head and neck posture. This can help prevent future episodes of injury.