The temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) connects your mandible (jaw bone) to the temporal bone of your skull i.e. your jaw joint. We have two TMJs and they are located in close proximity to each ear. Between your mandible and your skull we have a meniscus (cartilagenous disc) acting as a cushion to prevent bone on bone contact, facilitate joint movement and absorb the forces endured during eating, drinking, yawning etc. Lots of muscles are responsible for producing movement of the TMJs and are activated most of the day during yawning, speaking, feeding and breathing. Thus, the TMJ is one of the most used joints in the body and can be predisposed to injury/disorder.
‘Temporomandibular disorders’ (TMD) is a collective term embracing a number of clinical problems that involve the muscles of mastication (feeding), the TMJ and associated structures, or both (Jeffrey Okeson, 1996).
It is estimated that approximately 550,000 people in Ireland suffer from TMD making this condition a significant public health problem. In fact it is the second most common musculoskeletal condition causing pain and disability.
Signs & Symptoms of TMD
TMJ related pain can be varied, diffuse and debilitating. Symptoms can include:
Pain and tenderness on palpation in the muscles of mastication,or of the joint itself.
Pain when chewing, clenching, or yawning
Facial pain or headache that is often worse upon waking
Limited range of movement of the jaw
Jaw clicking, popping, graunching, locking and/or stiffness in the joint
Incoordination, asymmetry or deviation of jaw movement
Nonodontogenic Toothache (toothache not originated from pathology of the teeth)
Sinus pain/facial pressure
Associated neck/shoulder pain and stiffness
Diminished auditory acuity (hearing loss)
Tinnitus (occasionally, note that there are many causes of tinnitus).
Change in occlusion (feeling that the teeth do not meet together as they should)
Causes of TMD
Trauma to the joint e.g. a blow to the face
Stretching of the jaw during period of intubation or prolonged dental work
Bruxism (clenching and grinding)
Inadequate occlusion or changes in occlusion due to orthodontic
Prolonged poor posture
Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD)
At SPARC: FACES we are passionate about addressing the underlying causes of your symptoms, Through thorogh assessment and with a combination of education, advice, manual therapy and self care exercises aim to resolve your pain and prevent its recurrence. Should onward referral be necessary we liaise with GPs, ENTs, Neurologists etc in order to facilitate appropriate care for all of our clients.