Beyond the Nightguard: How Physical Therapy Can Help TMJ Pain

The alarm clock rings waking you from sleep, you remove your nightguard, yawn, and instead of greeting the new day with excitement, you cringe and grab your jaw. Frustrated with the ongoing pain and soreness in your jaw, you wonder, “Why isn’t my nightguard working?” Suffering from Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction (TMJ) can be frustrating. But what most people don’t realize is that it takes more than a mouth guard to address the underlying source of the dysfunction. That’s where physical therapy can help. The Temporomandibular joint – the joint where your jaw and ear meet – can often be the site of pain and discomfort. Think of walking with one shoe on and one shoe off, eventually your back or hip will start to feel stress and irritated from the poor alignment of your joints. The same thing can happen with your bite when your teeth and jaw are not properly aligned. Typically, a mouth guard or bite guard, recommended by a dentist or orthodontist, is used to adjust the bite and jaw to a position that helps relieve some of the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ dysfunction. While a bite guard may provide some […]

Stability vs. Mobility

Have you ever taken an apple from the produce section at the grocery store and caused an apple avalanche to tumble all over the floor? Or loosened your belt to the point where your pants fell down? All moving things, our joints included, require a certain amount of tension and stability, if they are too loose they can cause a ripple effect of problems. In the case of our joints, bones and muscles, this ripple effect isn’t as incidental as an embarrassing grocery store incident or sagging jeans. The results can be severe, long lasting, and far reaching to other parts of the body. After all, our body is an intricate system of hinges and pulleys – all sensitive to each others tensions. Stretch and massage feels wonderful! It can also create some beneficial space in our joints so we can regain movement. However, stretch and massage alone is NOT the answer to the rehabilitation of a body part. Sometimes a muscle has tightened up to offer stability, doing release work without stabilization and re-education can create instability. Physical therapy and true physical fitness involves the mobilization and stabilization of joints, and re-education of the muscles and central nervous system […]