What is the condition?
Temporomandibular disorder (jaw pain) affects approximately 10% of the population. It is characterized by pain and dysfunction in the muscles of the jaw, temporomandibular (jaw) joints or nerves associated with the jaw and face.
What causes this condition?
TMD is multifactorial. It can be a combination of genetics/family history, excessive strain (ie: bruxism – unconscious and involuntary grinding or clenching of jaw), trauma, postural and/or nervous system disorders.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat muscle and joint dysfunctions. Different techniques (such as trigger point release, dry needling/acupuncture) can be used to release tight/spastic muscles of the jaw and neck. Mobilization and manipulations can be used to restore jaw mobility and neck range of motion. Exercises will be prescribed to increase strength and endurance of the jaw muscles. This will allow the jaw to move more optimally and prevent further injury. Exercises will also be prescribed to strengthen the neck muscles in order to correct postural alignment.
In a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by de Oliveira-Souza, A et al, patients with TMD had decreased muscular strength and endurance compared to patients without TMD. The research also shows that patients with TMD had a greater loss of cervical range of motion compared to healthy individuals.
What are some safe home exercises I can do for this condition?
- Find resting position of your jaw
- place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth and take 6 deep breaths in and out of your nose
- Controlled opening
- place and keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth while opening mouth as wide as you can 6 times
- Stabilization for the jaw
- Place both thumbs under jaw and provide gentle pressure while resisting jaw opening, hold 6 sec, 6 times
- Place two fingers of right hand on the right side of your jaw and provide gentle pressure while resisting lateral movement into your hand, hold 6 sec, 6 times
- Place two fingers of left hand on the left side of your jaw and provide gentle pressure while resisting lateral movement into your hand, hold 6 sec, 6 times
- Stabilized head flexion
- clasp hands behind neck and nod chin down (to middle of your throat), hold 6 sec, 6 times
- Cervical retraction
- keep eyes straight forward and draw head straight back (double chin), hold 6 sec, 6 times
- Scapular retraction
- Squeeze shoulder blades together down and back, hold 6 sec, 6 times
References: de Oliveira-Souza, A. I. S., de O. Ferro, J. K., Barros, M. M., & Oliveira, D. A. D. (2020). Cervical musculoskeletal disorders in patients with temporomandibular dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 24(4), 84–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2020.05.001