Return To Blog

Signs You Have a TMJ Disorder and How Denver Physical Therapy Can Help

June 14, 2017

Millions of Americans suffer from pain due to a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ. While many refer to this pain as “TMJ,” everyone has a TMJ, as it is the joint that connects the skull and lower jaw. For those that do have a disorder of this joint, also known as TMD, they might not realize that their everyday aches and pains are correlated with issues related to their TMJ. Learn what the symptoms of a TMJ disorder look like, areas that can be affected and ways to cope through treatment and specialized physical therapy.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

When most people envision what a TMJ disorder looks like, they think about pain in the jaw. While this can be true, this is just one of many symptoms. For many suffering from TMD, they may experience headaches, neck and back pain, earaches or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or vertigo. In addition, those who deal with TMD have aches and pain in their face, anywhere from the jaw all the way up to one’s temples. Pain in this area can make it hard to eat or chew depending on the pain level. For others, it can be easy for a jaw to lock or the jaw may be uneven, creating a “popping” noise when the mouth is opened or closed. For a deeper look into TMJ, read Health Line’s TMJ Disorders.

Triggers and Areas Affected by a TMJ Disorder

What many do not know is that the TMJ can affect much more than the jaw itself. The TMJ is connected through your temples or all the way to your back. For your temples, stress or other triggers can lead to a tense feeling in the temples or anywhere in the face. This can lead to headaches or pain. TMJ also can create a stiff feeling that not only can lead to headaches, but also create a stiffness in the neck and back. In the process of tensing up, some grind their teeth clench their jaw without knowing.

Treatment and Physical Therapy

If you have any of the symptoms of a TMJ disorder, it is important to discuss with a doctor to find ways to cope or treat. It can be a collaborative effort between your doctor, dentist and physical therapist. One of the things that can help with facial and other pain is the diet. Try reducing sugar intake as well as other processed foods to see if it helps. In addition, your doctor or dentist may recommend a mouth guard to wear at night or even during the day to help with the clenching of the jaw. A muscle relaxer may also be prescribed to help ease tension in the jaw and temple region. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help reduce pain and swelling too. Last, specialized physical therapy can help introduce you to exercises and motions to help you manage your TMJ.
Do you have TMJ disorder? Learn how a Cherry Creek wellness center can help. Contact us at 303-333-3493. We can help you find ways to manage pain from your TMJ disorder.