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How to Treat TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a common issue that affects your jaw movement. Women are impacted more, with almost nine women having severe pain and limited jaw movements for every man. Therefore, it’s important to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for TMJ issues.

What Is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint is at the base of the skull. The temporomandibular joint or TMJ enables the necessary movement for chewing and communicating. It also allows the jaw to move up and down as well as side to side.

What Is the Difference Between TMD and TMJ?

TMD means Temporomandibular Dysfunction, which is mostly the involvement of the jaw muscles, and the joint is intact. It results from muscle imbalance where trigger points and tightness occur either on one side or both sides of the jaw, causing pain and discomfort.

TMJ is the involvement of the Temporomandibular joint. This is usually more complex and involves both the muscles and the joint. There is usually a popping or clicking sound with jaw movement and can cause pain and discomfort.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders are associated with pain in the jaw joint and muscles around it. These disorders can be diagnosed by a variety of symptoms, including persistent jaw pain and restricted jaw movement. Popping or clicking may occur with jaw movement, and it may or may not be painful. It’s critical to speak to a healthcare provider if you are always feeling discomfort or pain in the area.

Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

TMJ issues can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Physical injury or trauma

  • Whiplash injuries and car accidents may also cause TMJ

  • Teeth grinding or clenching while sleeping

  • Arthritis

  • Any type of medical or dental procedure

  • Poor posture that can strain TMJ ligaments and muscles

There are many symptoms linked to TMJ disorder. The most common ones are:

  • Pain while moving the jaw.

  • An unusual popping, clicking, or even grinding sound while eating, talking, or simply opening the mouth.

  • Buzzing, ringing, or numbness in the ears alongside earaches.

  • Restricted movement of jaw in certain directions.

  • Headaches, especially in the temporal area.

  • Neck pain and tightness.

Treatment for Relieving TMJ Pain

TMJ dysfunction can be treated in various ways.


Physiotherapists can help restore the natural movement of your jaw and decrease the painful and irritating symptoms that come with TMJ disorders. Your therapist will assess your conditions and lifestyle habits to see what treatment is best for you. Restoring proper muscular movements and joint alignment will provide proper mechanics for the jaw to move pain-free.

Some techniques used in the treatment of TMJ:

  • Manual release of soft tissue and trigger points

  • Joint mobilization to improve mobility

  • Modalities as ultrasound to reduce inflammation

  • Acupuncture /dry needling to restore range of motion and pain

  • Active exercises to assist proper jaw movements

  • Stretching and posture exercises for alignment

For TMJ disorders caused by pre-existing illnesses, more specific treatment options are available. A mouth guard, for example, may assist in alleviating the symptoms of TMJ disorder caused by tooth grinding or clenching while sleeping. Steroid injections may be indicated in cases where degenerative illnesses like osteoarthritis cause TMJ issues.


Self-care and lifestyle changes may be enough to handle mild symptoms. This includes:

  • Avoiding chewing gum

  • Eating only soft foods

  • Avoiding clenching or tensing the jaw

Gentle activities, such as slightly expanding the jaw may also be recommended. But if pain persists, please seek medical advice to prevent further pain and problems.


Surgery can be the most effective treatment for pain and restricted movement in more severe forms of TMJ disease. The joint may need to be replaced in the most severe forms of TMJ disorders, where jaw movement is severely restricted and symptoms continue for a long time. However, this is only used in rare cases.

Even if the treatment involves self-care and basic lifestyle adjustments, you should always consult a medical practitioner before starting any treatment.

If you want to know more about how to treat TMJ disorders through physiotherapy, contact us today. At Radiant Physiotherapy, our team of professional and certified therapists is committed to providing relief from TMJ disorders.