TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s often used as a shorthand description for jaw pain, most likely due to abnormal jaw mechanics.
Causes of TMJ pain can include:
- Imbalance in muscles’ flexibility and strength.
- Scar tissue around the joint.
Most TMJ pain will go away if you modify your activities. To ease the pain:
- Rest your jaw.
- Practice TMJ exercises (below).
- Avoid hard foods.
- Don’t chew gum.
- Don’t smoke.
- Use ice to lower inflammation.
- Ask your doctor about medications.
A physical therapist can help you figure out mechanical factors that place more stress on your jaw’s joints and muscles. Physical therapy can help reduce inflammation and muscle imbalances while loosening the joint that might be stiff.
Contact a Sutter Physical Therapy department for a consultation about the TMJ and its dysfunctions.