TMD is a condition in which a person has limited jaw opening, difficulties with chewing or closing the jaw and sometimes “popping and clicking” within the jaw joint itself. When I tell people that physical therapy can help with TMD, they are often surprised. Additional training is often required to be able to successfully treat the jaw because it is not a focal point of PT school. Even in my own clinical rotations, several of my Clinical Instructors echoed this sentiment by stating that they referred out for patients experiencing TMD issues because they did not feel comfortable treating this joint. Because of this introduction to TMD, I too, referred out for this issue, until it happened to me.
It wasn’t until I experienced my own bout of TMD pain that I learned how to effectively treat this joint. I quickly focused my attention on attacking the pain with all of my knowledge on exercises I had once been taught. Unfortunately, no exercise or manual release would get rid of the pain until I researched in depth how to get my jaw back on track. From my own experience, having a jaw misaligned was VERY painful, and I was reduced to a soft food diet because the pain of eating anything that required excessive opening or chewing, was simply too agonizing. I was desperate to find a cure or answers. Thankfully, I studied the natural biomechanics of the jaw and was able to see that my jaw was retracting every time I opened, which in turn leads to chronic irritation of the disc in the mandible. I came up with my own fine-tuned exercises that would lead to my jaw opening the way it was intended to open. After doing these exercises for a day or two, I experimented with a soft food that I knew required a lot of jaw opening. I’ve never been so thrilled to be able to eat a banana in my entire life. I literally cried. I do find that I am best treating issues that I have experienced first hand. I’m so thankful to have gone through several of the painful issues that I treat today because I am so passionate about helping those with that same pain find relief. I also encourage people who do not have pain, but dysfunction in opening the jaw to seek treatment before you create an issue in the future where you have arthritis. Dysfunction is often present before the pain begins. Heed the warning signs.
If you have experienced TMD pain and you have tried ALL the things, trust me when I say, it’s easier than you think, but the current exercises that are out there on the internet, do not focus on realigning the jaw. If you would like help with TMD pain, please reach out to us on our webpage for help at www.prosperpt.com