Can TMJ dysfunction be cured?

tmj cure

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction is a condition that causes pain and limited movement of the jaw joint. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that hinges the bottom of the jaw to the base of the skull. It’s used to eat, talk, and open your mouth. When the joint in the jaw becomes inflamed, TMJ dysfunction results. It affects about 10 million people in the U.S.


If you’ve recently been diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction, you may be wondering what can cure your condition. The top symptoms, causes and answers to whether TMJ dysfunction can be cured are all listed in detail below.


What are the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?


The symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can be uncomfortable and generally indicate a need for professional physical therapy treatment. These symptoms include:


  • Pain in the jaw or around the jaw joints.
  • Pain in or around the ears.
  • Pain or discomfort while chewing food.
  • Pain or discomfort around the face.
  • Locking or clicking sounds while moving the jaw.
  • Frequent tension headaches.
  • Misaligned top and bottom jaws.
  • Difficulty opening the jaw fully.


What are the causes of TMJ dysfunction?


There are several potential causes of TMJ dysfunction that could be behind your pain and discomfort. These causes include:


  • Overuse or strain on the jaw joints — One potential cause of TMJ dysfunction is overuse. Using the jaw too frequently can strain the jaw joints and lead to inflammation and limited movement. 


  • Muscle weakness — Muscle weakness can leave your jaw joints vulnerable to injury and overuse. Someone with poor muscle strength in their jaw is at risk of developing a TMJ disorder. 


  • Teeth grinding — Chronic teeth grinding has also been known to contribute to the development of TMJ dysfunction. If you grind your teeth in your sleep or when you’re nervous, this could be part of the reason behind your TMJ pain.


  • Arthritis — There are over 100 types of arthritis that can affect the joints. Joint disease usually affects the hands, feet, knees and hips, but it’s been known to cause joint pain in the jaw too.
  • Trauma to the jaw jointTraumatic injury is another potential source of TMJ dysfunction. A jaw bone fracture or joint dislocation can increase your likelihood of developing temporomandibular joint dysfunction.


Can TMJ dysfunction be cured? What can help my symptoms?


If you’ve been diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction, you may be seeking a cure for your condition. It’s important to understand that no “cure” will make your TMJ dysfunction symptoms disappear. However, you can undergo physical therapy treatment for your symptoms so that your symptoms become less significant. Physical therapy can’t cure your TMJ dysfunction, but it can help you manage your condition. Here’s what PT can specifically do for those with TMJ pain:


  • Mobilize the joints in your jaw — One way physical therapy can treat your temporomandibular joint dysfunction is by improving joint mobility. By performing gentle stretching exercises, you can reduce stiffness and tension around the jaw joints. PT won’t cure your dysfunction, but it can show you which exercises you can use to improve the functionality of your jaw without creating any additional pain or discomfort.


  • Improve your posture — Physical therapy can be helpful for TMJ patients whose posture contributes to their jaw pain. Poor posture can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ pain. A physical therapist can identify where your posture could improve and help you practice consistent, positive changes to your posture.


  • Reduce muscle tension — PT can also effectively reduce muscle tension, a known contributor to TMJ pain. TMJ-related muscle tension can develop around the joints, in the head, in the neck and even as far as the shoulders. Rather than curing TMJ dysfunction, a physical therapist can determine these areas of muscle tension and use manual therapy and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) to reduce tense muscle areas causing pain and discomfort. 


  • Strengthen the muscles around your jaw — Building muscle strength is essential to reducing TMJ pain and discomfort. Working to increase muscle strength can reduce tension and increase your body’s capacity to handle physical stress. It won’t be a cure for your TMJ symptoms, but it can significantly reduce them. Stronger muscles around the jaw can protect your TMJ joint from further injury and inflammation. 


  • Teach you how to prevent TMJ pain — Another way that physical therapy can improve your TMJ pain is by educating you on what you can do to actively prevent future flare-ups. While there isn’t a TMJ dysfunction cure, there are ways you can take your pain into your own hands. There are certain hard foods that may place your joints under strain, like hard candy. These should be avoided. Physical therapists can also identify which habits, like teeth clenching and nail biting, contribute to jaw pain.


Panther Physical Therapy can provide high-quality treatment for your TMJ pain


Our skilled team at Panther Physical Therapy can help you get the TMJ treatment you’re in need of. We’re a team of experienced therapists who value continued education and are always looking for ways to improve our standard of care. 


If your TMJ pain has left you feeling like your life has slipped out of your control, don’t hesitate to choose our physical therapy team to treat your condition. We’re experts who have experience in dealing with temporomandibular joint dysfunction. While there may not be a cure for TMJ pain, we can help you learn to manage your symptoms. Don’t wait a moment longer to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.