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TMJ in New Jersey

TMJ is a common condition that affects the jaw joint, resulting in pain, tightness, popping and, in the most severe cases, an inability to open or close the mouth. At Performance Rehabilitation, the physical therapists at our Totowa and Lafayette Township facilities offer treatments for TMJ to the residents of New Jersey.

What is TMJ?

An estimated 10 million Americans struggle with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) every single year. The temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints in the body, and this condition occurs when the jaw is no longer working correctly. TMJ is most often characterized by pain, but a variety of other symptoms may be present as well. Variables such as stress and poor posture play a significant role in the development of TMJ.

What Causes TMJ?

TMJ can be caused by a wide variety of issues, and in some situations, doctors can never confirm the exact cause of the disorder. Doctors do agree, however, that TMJ takes place when the jaw itself or the soft tissue surrounding the jaw is not working correctly. In some situations, TMJ is caused by trauma to the head, neck, or jaw from a heavy blow to the face or whiplash after an auto accident. Other causes of TMJ are:

  • Chronic stress that causes the patient to tighten or clench their jaw subconsciously
  • Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint
  • Unnatural movement of either the ball or socket component of the joint
  • Chronic grinding and clenching of the teeth that damages the joint
  • Referred pain from the cervical spine

What are the Symptoms TMJ?

The single most common symptom of TMJ is discomfort and pain around the jaw. Some patients may find that the pain comes and goes while others experience a dull throbbing over the course of years. This condition can take place on one or both sides of the jaw. It is also more common in women than in men, and typically affects patients between the ages of 20 and 40.

Common symptoms of TMJ are:

  • Swelling on one or both sides of the face
  • Pain or tenderness around the jaw, neck, face, head, shoulders, or ears, especially when chewing, speaking, or opening your mouth
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds when eating or speaking. These sounds are not always accompanied by discomfort
  • A feeling as if your jaw has an uncomfortable “fit” in your mouth
  • Chronic toothaches, headaches, hearing problems, and dizziness

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

Many of the symptoms of TMJ can be caused by other health problems, which is why an accurate diagnosis is so important. Diagnosing this disorder begins with a thorough look at the patient’s medical history and an examination of the mouth and jaw.
Our therapist will then carry out one or more tests to check:

  • Bite strength
  • How wide the jaw can open
  • Whether certain positions cause joint pain
  • If cracking noises are present when the jaw is manipulated
  • Rule out and treat cervical referred pain
  • Postural issues causing TMJ

Your dentist or physician may perform x-rays or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to diagnose TMJ.

How is TMJ Treated at Performance Rehabilitation?

Every patient’s case of TMJ is slightly different, and this is why a physical therapist at Performance Rehabilitation will create a personalized treatment plan to suit your own needs. By assessing your needs, answering questions and teaching you about this disorder, we can work together to come up with an effective plan of action. This often begins with simple lifestyle changes such as improving your posture and learning stress management techniques. Each of these can be combined with exercise and manual techniques in order to reduce discomfort and improve the function of your jaw. Through joint mobilization of the TMJ and cervical spine and soft tissue release techniques to the supporting TMJ and cervical musculature, the patient is able to regain normal biomechanics and eliminate pain. Prescriptive exercises are given to help stabilize and maintain the gains made and restore normal function. The friendly and experienced staff at Performance Rehabilitation is ready to help patients improve their quality of life with orthopedic manual therapy techniques that are evidence-based in nature.

Stress, poor posture and other factors can cause problems in your jaw, known as TMJ. Contact Performance Rehabilitation, located in Totowa and Lafayette Township in New Jersey, to schedule a personal consultation, and we will help you understand the condition and offer safe and effective treatments.