Temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is the joint between your lower jaw (mandible) and bone on the side of your head (temporal bone). The mandible is suspended from the temporal bone via ligaments and muscles and the two bones are separated by the disc inside the joint. Like any other joint in the body, it has a joint capsule that is filled with synovial fluid. It is the most used joint in the body. It is quite resilient in structure and can take a lot of pressure, but it can also be overused. Patients can experience one or more of the following:
- Facial pain
- Pain in the jaw joint and surrounding structures including ear
- Jaw locking open or close
- Limited opening or inability to open the mouth comfortably
- “Clicking” or noise with opening and closing the mouth
- Bite that feels uncomfortable, “off” or changing all the time
- Neck, shoulder, upper back pain (postural changes)
Several aspects of our life can affect this joint and cause discomfort and pain:
- Habitual activity (chewing gum, eating seeds all day long)
- Sport injuries and trauma
- Dental aspect (missing teeth, grinding teeth, clenching jaw, eating on one side)
- Postural stress to soft tissues (one example is sitting at desk with your head forward) just to name a few possible causes of TMJ problems.
The structures around the joint: muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, joint capsule can all be affected and cause problems.
At the assessment appointment Biljana will discuss your treatment options, goals and expectations. The treatment itself may include work outside and inside of the mouth to access the structure in question. I will provide an exercise regime to you to help you with the management of symptoms. If needed your massage therapist will work closely with your dentist, orthodontist or your medical doctor to ensure your treatment is well managed.
*SCIENCE LOVERS TIDBIT: New ligament discovery, Pinto’s ligament between middle ear (malleus) and TMJ capsule. It is a proof of direct physical connection between jaw joint and middle ear, that we didn’t know of. Conditions like tinnitus, ringing in the ear, pressure in the ear can be connected with disfunctions of the TMJ.
Written by Biljana Bozic, Registered Massage Therapist