Temporomandibular Disorders (TMJ/TMD)

Our two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect each side of our lower jaw to our skull. The joint allows for both a hinged open-and-close action and a gliding side-to-side action that permits the mouth to open widely. The temporomandibular joints are used in talking, chewing, swallowing, and yawning.

Muscle and nerve problems in this area can cause headache; face, neck, and ear pain; muscle spasm; ringing in the ears and hearing loss; and difficulty biting and chewing, and even opening the mouth. The jaw may make audible clicking or popping sounds, and can lock open or closed.

Problems with the jaw joint are referred to as TMJ Syndrome or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). The condition appears more often in women than in men.

TMJ/TMD has a wide variety of causes, including:

  • Physical injury, such as a blow to the face.
  • Self-induced trauma from grinding or clenching the teeth.
  • Gum-chewing and other oral habits.
  • Shoulder-holding a telephone.
  • Jaw/teeth formation.
  • Suffering with other painful body conditions.

Recurrent and chronic TMJ/TMD responds well to physical therapy, which relieves pain, increases muscle strength, releases scar tissue, and improves or restores joint mobility. Physical Therapist Shane Bauer will assess and diagnose the pain source and create a treatment plan using a variety of complementary therapies that can include hands-on manipulation and muscle loosening, and education and instruction in exercises. Each treatment plan will be tailored to the needs of the individual.

Other Treatments for Painful Conditions