TMJ Syndrome

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome is the name given for a group of disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These may be characterized by pain, a limitation of jaw opening, locking or a clicking noise at the joint.
Anatomically the TMJ acts like a sliding hinge that connects your jaw (mandible) bi-laterally with your temporal bone in the head. Our TMJ is involved in most of our daily life, for talking, eating, breathing and to express our feelings or emotions.

What are some of the TMJ signs and symptoms?

• Pain in the jaw next to, or in the ear
• Popping or clicking of the TMJ
• Limited opening of the jaw
• Pain on clenching or eating
• The jaw deviates while opening or closing
• Locking of the jaw
• Headaches/ migraines


Treatment is determined by the history and assessment of the specific dysfunction.
Manual therapies can be very beneficial in regards to the treatment of TMJ disc displacement, movement disorders in combination with self-stretches and exercise.
Due to its underlying neurophysiological mechanism, dry needling can be effective in the treatment of local and myofascial referred pain affecting the TMJ and its associated musculature.
Your dentist may recommend a mouth-guard in disorders such as bruxism and jaw clenching.

Self Help

• Eat soft food
• Cut food into smaller pieces
• Avoid unilateral chewing
• Avoid opening your mouth too wide
• Be aware of jaw clenching
• Use relaxation techniques

What Causes TMJ Syndrome?

The causes of TMJ syndrome are not fully understood, as multiple factors contribute to its pain and dysfunction.
Some common causes and contributing factors are:
• Myofascial or masticatory muscle dysfunction
• TMJ articular disc displacement
• Occlusal problems or poor bite
• Bruxism: or nocturnal grinding
• Asymmetric chewing
• Upper cervical dysfunctions
• Whiplash or trauma
• Stress disorders
• Arthritis

TMJ Assessment

• Mandibular range of motion
• Co-ordination and movement pattern
• Masticatory muscle examination
• Palpation of the TMJ
• Cervical spine examination
• Postural assessment
• Assessment of neck and shoulder girdle muscles that may refer pain


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C Fernández-de-las Peñas, J Mesa-Jiménez 2018. Temporomandibular Disorders. Manual therapy, exercise and needling.

F Grondin, T Hall. Changes in cervical movement impairment and pain following orofacial treatment in patients with chronic arthralgic temporomandibular disorders with pain: a prospective case series. Physiotherapy Theory Pract. 33:52-61

A Kalamir, P L Graham, A Vitello H Pollard, R Bonello.2012. Intraoral myofascial therapy for chronic myogenous temporomandibular disorders; a randomized controlled trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 35:26-37

Simons D, Travell JG, Simons LS.1999. Myofascial pain and dysfunction. The trigger point manual. Upper half of body. 2.: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins

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