TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint aka the Jaw joint. It is the joint that connects the manible (jaw) to the skull in front of the ear. If you have pain or popping at your jaw, it may be TMJ.
Causes include trauma, teeth grinding, clenching, chewing gum, or arthritis.
Symptoms you may feel include pain at TMJ, pain in neck, headaches, spasms, dizziness, ear ringing, clicking/popping, swelling, difficulty swallowing, nausea.
Here are some conservative treatment options:
- Massage the muscles at the TMJ region: pterygoid and masseter
- Stretch the neck muscles
- Avoid chewing gum or hard foods
- Ice your jaw
- Avoid opening your mouth wide
- Consider seeing your Dr for a night mouth guard if you grind your teeth at night
- Work on improving your posture
- Strengthen your jaw by performing the Roccobado Exercises (see below)
- If the above treatment does not help, consider seeing a Physical Therapist for possible ultrasound treatment, manual manipulation, and massage
- Looking in a mirror, slowly open your mouth while keeping the teeth visible to make sure the teeth stay aligned. Only go as far as you can before the jaw deviates (moves out of centered alignment). 3×15.
- Place your tongue up on the roof of your mouth. Then open and close your jaw as far as you can. 3×15.
- Looking in a mirror, place your hand on the left side of your jaw. Open your mouth/jaw slightly, then push your hand to the right as you move your jaw to the left against your hand’s resistance. So the jaw is not actually moving to the left. It is performing an isometric contraction against your hand. Hold 3 seconds. 3×15 to that side. Then repeat on the right side of the jaw.
- Looking in a mirror, place your fist under the center of your jaw. Open your mouth/jaw slightly. Now push your fist upward as you move your jaw downward against the fist’s resistance. So the jaw is not actually opening more. It is performing an isometric contraction against your hand. Hold 3 seconds. 3×15.
- Lie down with a towel roll under your head. Now perform a chin tuck. Tuck the chin to the chest as if you are making a double chin face. At the same time, push your head down into the towel. 3×15.
- Stretch your neck by pulling the head down to one shoulder for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.