TMJ Syndrome (Temporomandibular Joint)
The TMJ is a very small joint, in close proximity to the ear, upper cervical spine and the jaw. At times this area has functional problems; people frequently complain of clicking or popping; pain in the joint itself and/ or difficulty opening or closing. Dentists often see these patients and sometimes recommend extensive physical work to the jaw itself, often suggesting bracing or surgery to realign the teeth or mandible. Physical therapy and craniosacral therapy can often times help these situations, depending on the exact pathology of the joint. Careful examination of the mouth, jaw and muscles (inside and outside of the mouth) and manual manipulations to the joint and the associated musculature can significantly help these patients. The TMJ joint itself is complicated, complete with a hinge and gliding joint, with a meniscus like the knee joint. Often times the meniscus moves improperly, secondary to muscle tightness and poor joint mechanics, and sometimes the upper cervical spine and forward head postures do not allow the joint to work as efficiently as it should. These areas are all addressed; sometimes in conjunction with using a night time splint to rest the joint. Close communication with the dental profession is important so we work closely with the referring dentist (if there is one).