Have you ever chewed a piece of gum and felt a sharp pain in your jaw? That might not just be a random occurrence. It could be a condition known as TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
This is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, and when it’s not functioning properly, it can cause a world of discomfort. But don’t worry; we’re here to help you understand what makes TMJ worse and how to manage the symptoms effectively.
Let’s get right into it.
The Unseen Culprit: TMJ
TMJ is a complex joint consisting of two bones and a disc. When these parts don’t coordinate well, it can cause misalignment of the jaw and painful symptoms.
The symptoms can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to eat solid food. Common symptoms include pain in the TMJ joint, painful popping or clicking, locking of the jaw in an open position, muscle spasm at the angle of the jaw and on the side of the head, headaches, and dizziness.
What Makes TMJ Worse?
Here are some factors that can exacerbate TMJ pain:
- Trauma: Injuries can lead to joint hypermobility or stiffness.
- Grinding: Nightly teeth grinding can cause joint or disc injury.
- Posture: Poor posture can contribute to jaw dysfunction.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these factors.
Trauma: The Unseen Aggravator
Ever had a nasty fall or a blow to the face? Such trauma can lead to hypermobility or stiffness of one of the TMJ joints. This unequal movement leads to accelerated wear and tear of the joint structures, causing more pain and discomfort.
Grinding: The Silent Night Terror
If you’re a ‘grinder,’ all that clenching of the jaw while you sleep can result in joint or disc injury as well as muscle spasms. This constant grinding wears down your teeth and puts undue stress on your TMJ, making the pain worse.
Posture: The Subtle Saboteur
You might not realize it, but your posture plays a significant role in your TMJ health. A forward head posture is a common cause of jaw dysfunction.
Many of the muscles that control your jaw also attach to your upper neck, so poor posture can increase tension and pain in your jaw.
How to Release Jaw Tension
Living with TMJ pain can be challenging, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and release the tension in your jaw.
Physiotherapy can be a great way to improve TMJ mobility. If a stiff joint is identified as the cause of TMJ, a physiotherapist can apply hands-on treatment methods to restore correct joint movement.
They will then prescribe specific stretches to help you maintain the range of motion improvement between visits.
Muscle Spasm Reduction
Often, muscle spasms prevent the TMJ from recovering. Physiotherapists are anatomy experts and understand how to assess the muscles of your TMJ.
The application of manual therapy techniques to reduce spasms will aid in improving joint alignment and movement, ultimately leading to decreased pain!
Working on fixing that forward head posture can make a huge difference for some sufferers of TMJ dysfunction. Physiotherapists teach patients how to strengthen postural muscles and lengthen shortened tissues so that they can improve their head position.
Now You Know Who to Contact for the Pain in your Jaw
TMJ pain can be a nuisance, but understanding what makes TMJ worse can help you manage the symptoms effectively. Remember, you’re not alone in this.
We’re here to help you every step of the way. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Synergy Health Centre. Let’s work together to get you back to living a pain-free life.