Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

TMJ is the short term to describe the temporomandibular joint - the joint that connects your jaw (the mandible) to the skull (specifically, the temporalis bone). This is a hinge joint, held together with the help of powerful jaw muscles. (The largest muscle, the masseter, is considered to be one of the strongest muscles in the body, because it can generate the greatest amount of measurable force of any single muscle in the body.) The joint, together with the muscles and surrounding connective tissue, forms a system that not only has to grind food efficiently, and also has to work smoothly during speech and respiration. But when one portion of the system gets irritated somehow, the whole unit stops working effectively, causing symptoms of a TMJ disorder.

The TMJ (there’s one on each side of your head near your ear) and the surrounding musculature can be injured or inflamed with activities of everyday life, such as eating hard candy, stress, tooth grinding at night, and especially through trauma, such as a blow to the chin or in sport or car accidents.

An injured TMJ may begin clicking or popping, pain with eating, locking of the jaw, and headache around the temporal region.

TMJ disorders can be quite complicated but Dr. Guthrie can evaluate the presence of some the common causes and discuss treatment options. These might include gentle manipulation or adjusting of the joint along with muscle work by our experienced registered massage therapist to help relax the jaw muscles. Acupuncture is also an affective treatment in dealing with the pain and disturbed function found in TMJ disorders.  Lifestyle modification might also be necessary, such as sleeping with a jaw plate to reduce teeth grinding, home stretches and stress reduction.