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TMJ, TMD, & Headaches

The temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) is located between your mandible (lower jaw) and the temporal bone (upper jaw). Temporo-mandibular dysfunction (TMD) can result from grinding your teeth, biting your nails, poor posture, or a mal-aligned bite. The preceding strain the TMJ and result in pain, stiffness of the jaw, temples, or ears, loss of jaw range of motion, clicking or cracking with opening or closing the mouth, or an abnormal bite.

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Case Study

History

39-year-old woman with a history of night grinding, headaches, 4 months of jaw pain, and R jaw clicking with eating or yawning.

Symptoms

The patient could not fully open her mouth when she tried to fully open her mouth the lower jaw deviated to the right. She also had tenderness of the cheek, temple and neck muscles, and poor posture. Her dentist had fitted her for an appliance. She reported the appliance (worn only at night) eliminated 50% of her jaw pain.

Treatment

Her treatment consisted of massage and stretching to the jaw and neck muscles, ultrasound to the right jaw, re-education of the jaw muscles (eliminating the right deviation), postural re-education, and neck/upper back strengthening.

Results

Within 3 weeks (6 sessions) the patient could open her mouth in midline, with residual pain at the jaw’s end range of opening. Her chronic headaches (that she had never previously associated with neck or jaw tension) had decreased and her home exercises (for improved posture) were getting easier.

Results 

Within 6 weeks (12 sessions) the patient had full, pain-free jaw opening, no headaches, and decreased jaw/neck tension managed with self-massage and stretching techniques. Her posture had improved and she had begun to work with a personal trainer on upper body strengthening.

Comment

The above case history represents our “typical” patient. Obviously, results and duration of treatment can vary for each patient depending upon their age, severity of the condition, diagnosis, and compliance with their Home Exercise Program.

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