TMJ - Temporomandibular Joint
This joint connects the skull to the jawbone, its purpose is to move in one plane; opening and closing our mouths. The word comes from the two joints involved; temporal bone of the skull and the mandible (your jaw).The muscles near them allow the jaw to open and close, these muscles include the masseter (found on the angle of the jaw), temporalis (found by your temples), pterygoids (found between ear and cheek bone) and your supra and infrahyoids (found under your jawline, near the top of your neck).
Now that we know the location and general information we can talk about dysfunction, common dysfunctions of the TMJ include myofascial pain, arthritis or internal derangement such as jaw dislocation, injury to the condyle (found just in front of your ears). These issues can be caused by trauma, stress, improper biting or excessive strain on muscles involved in TMJ.
Common signs and symptoms that may indicate TMJ dysfunction are radiating pain in the face, neck or jaw, muscle stiffness, clicking/popping of the joint when opening and closing, limited movement or jaw locking. It can cause further issues such as headaches, frequent sinus or ear infections and facial neuralgias (nerve related face pain)
Ways to relieve TMJ dysfunction pains - Massage Therapy can be exceptionally beneficial for TMJ dysfunction this can include internal and external treatment; but don’t worry gloves are worn when working within the mouth. It can be very tender but provides immediate relief. Another treatment to consider is visiting your orthodontist to change/balance your bite and prevent grinding. Although there are smaller lifestyle changes you can make to reduce symptoms/pain; such as correcting posture, eating softer foods, avoiding chewing gum, wide mouth yawning (might be a hard one to avoid but be AWARE anyway - that’s all you can do is be consciously aware of habits/things you are doing to try to correct!!) reducing stress and applying hot and cold compresses to the jaw.
Trust me when I say most people are suffering from TMJ dysfunction even if they aren’t aware of it!