TMJ Dysfunction – What is it and how can it be treated?

By David Coletta, MPT, CMPT
david@excelptmt.com

TMJ Defined

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction is a disorder of the joint where the jawbone meets the skull or the muscles surrounding that region. People suffering from TMJ Dysfunction complain of popping or locking in the jaw, pain in the face with eating or opening the mouth, and headaches. TMJ Dysfunction can be further classified into joint dysfunction, myalgia, or a combination of dysfunction and myalgia. Myalgia is simply defined as intra-muscular pain. Pure joint dysfunction of the TMJ involves popping in the jaw, pain coming from joint structures (bone, cartilage, disc, ligaments, joint capsule), and a predictable and measureable loss in mouth opening or closing range of motion. Myalgia in the TMJ region relates to inflammation and dysfunction in the muscles surrounding the TMJ. These muscles can cause local facial pain, neck pain, headaches, and changes in how the jaw is actively moved. Combined joint dysfunction/myalgia of the TMJ is the most common presentation and can include all of the elements in the individual disorders previously described.

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