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Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

  • Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. This joint is at work every time you open or close your mouth. When there is injury or repeated stress applied to this joint, pain and dysfunction can occur. This is called a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

    The exact cause of a person’s TMD is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of problems, including:

    • Arthritis
    • Bad posture
    • Injury to the jaw and surrounding muscles
    • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding

    In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMD can be alleviated with physical therapy.

    Signs and Symptoms of TMD

    • Pain or tenderness in your jaw, neck and shoulders, or around your ear
    • Limited ability to open your mouth wide
    • Pain and discomfort while chewing
    • Headache
    • Locking of the jaw joint
    • Clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth

    How Physical Therapy Can Help

    • Posture education and strengthening
    • Office/Home ergonomics
    • Manual therapy techniques to improve jaw movement
    • Electrical stimulation or ultrasound to reduce pain and discomfort

    Services vary by location. Find a local NovaCare physical therapy center to see if TMD services are offered near you.