Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a significant health problem affecting approximately 5% – 12% of global population. In USA, TMD management cost has doubled in the last decade at a whopping $4 billion. In USA, among adults, at least one sign of TMDs is reported as 40% – 75%. And among those, at least 33% have one symptom. Sad, but true, TMDs are most commonly found in young to middle-aged adults (20-50 years of age).
The important question is how to deal with this problem? Physical therapy on a regular basis is one of the best ways to beat this problem. The primary intentions of physical therapy are to bring back relaxation and stretching in the jaw area and also releasing tight muscles & scar tissue. Physical therapy is also an important aspect of recovering from TM joint surgery by minimizing formation of scar tissue & muscle tightness.
Undoubtedly, the role of physical therapist is immense in solving TMDs. A therapist can develop a program for a TMD affected individual that includes learning and practicing techniques to regain normal jaw movement.
The practicing techniques of TMDs are:
- Exercises of Jaw to strengthen muscles that help to improve flexibility including the motion-range.
- Applying heat therapies in improving the condition of blood circulation in the jaw area.
- Applying ice therapies that cut-down swelling & relieving pain.
- Massage to ease muscle tension.
- Regular training to improve posture & improve the alignment of jaw.
But when it’s come to specialized treatment, therapists opt for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It is an application of a mild electrical current to the skin over the joint of jaw. It is thought that the electrical current interfere with body’s pain signals. This treatment helps to relax muscles, improve blood circulation in jaw area, and importantly, relieve pain. However, the effectiveness of TENS differs people to people. The movement of temporomandibular (TM) joint is to release scar tissue. It also restricts muscle movement and improve motion-range. There is also another therapy – Ultrasound therapy. It uses high frequency sound waves that directs to the TM joint which reduces pain & swelling and also improve circulation.
After a session of therapy, a person should give proper rest to the jaw. It is really important for an individual to control the habit that causes pain in jaw and also avoid chewing of foods that stresses the jaw-joint area.
Why Physical Therapy
Physical therapy often used along with medicines that include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or even muscle relaxants. However, physical therapy is recommended when symptoms are not lessened with some home treatments & are related to any muscle tension. And undoubtedly, therapy is used after surgery to healing & reduce/minimize pain & swelling.
Success of Physical Therapy
Physical therapies are the best way to treat TMDs in both surgical & non-surgical cases.
Risks Pertaining to Physical Therapy
However, a person should aware of the fact that any therapy involving movement of jaw could create joint problems really worse. It is ideal to seek expert’s advice. In America, especially in Orange County, there are multiple Physical Therapists that offer world-class treatments for TMDs.
Importantly, before opting for a physical therapy & jaw exercises, consulting with the doctor should be the utmost importance for a person suffering from TM joint problem. As it can only a doctor who can determine the type of problem a person have and which part of the jaw is affected.