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Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Summary

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, also known as TMJ, is a condition of the jaw and surrounding muscular tissues that can cause pain and dysfunction to the mandibular joint when it is inflamed or injured. This will often lead to a multitude of symptoms that can vary in severity with the most common being headaches, stiff/tight/sore muscles of the jaw and neck, popping or clicking in the jaw, and pain that can be very similar to that of a toothache.

 

The structure of the jaw is meant to be a simplistic, yet extremely strong area of the body. The jaw is capable of more movements than just mastication (chewing)– it can also undertake deviation (wiggling side to side), as well as protrusion (jutting forward). Even though there are only 4 muscles that enable all of these movements, due to how tightly packed together the musculature is situated in the back of the mouth (as seen pictured here), it’s no wonder so many people can end up with problems! 

 

There is a slight difference between “TMJ” and “TMD”, however. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the three categories that make up the actual symptoms of TMD disorder are as follows: 

  • Pain when using the muscles that control the function of the jaw
  • Internal derangement of the joint involving the disc being displaced, a dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle/joint of the mandible
  • Arthritis-related issues that are degenerative and/or inflammatory joint disorders in the jaw

 

“TMD” is what is used to describe when the actual joint is misaligned, and is also what is used to define all of the symptoms associated with jaw pain. “TMJ” is simply the abbreviation for the joint itself, but has become the societal norm for what is recognized when speaking of jaw pain.

 

Cause

There are a multitude of reasons why a person can end up with TMJ: 

  • Trauma is a BIG one, such as having had a fractured or broken jaw, or even just from receiving a blow to the face. This can even happen during car accidents when an airbag goes off!
  • Dental work 
    • Sitting with your mouth open for long periods during a procedure
    • Work that made your teeth so sensitive afterwards that you changed the way you would chew due to discomfort
  • Bruxism (grinding of teeth) and/or jaw clenching
  • Misalignment of mandible
    • This can be something that happens as a side effect of trauma (professional athletes have this happen often!), or sometimes your mandible will get off-centered due to how your bite force is distributed. 

Effects

TMJ is one of those conditions that rarely is a one-time, acute case that will just “go away” on it’s own. Due to the complex nature of the joint that this condition is named for, it does not take much to have the symptoms begin to affect you. It is usually a chronic case that gets steadily worse with time if left untreated due to how much bite force the human jaw can produce on its own–to give you an idea, a pitbull can exert a force of 235 PSI with it’s jaw, while the human jaw can exert anywhere from 200-260 PSI. That’s a LOT of force that is being centered on something as delicate as the human teeth. It’s no wonder people can have teeth crack from the force of this condition, let alone all of the other symptoms it can produce!

 

It is possible to have an acute case of TMJ with symptoms that correlate to some of the above listed causes, such as dental work or a misalignment of the jaw. Even so, the majority of cases for this become a chronic issue. We live in such a stress-filled world, it makes sense that so many people will give themselves TMJ simply from grinding and/or clenching in their sleep and have no idea. If you’re waking up most days with a headache, a feeling of extreme tension throughout the side of your neck, throat and temples, or just achy teeth, you probably do it and haven’t even known!

Treatment

One very popular treatment to help mitigate some of the effects of TMJ can be to use a mouthguard, either one specially made by your dentist or one from the store. While using one can most definitely take the edge off of the symptoms, the best treatment for this is getting bodywork done to the muscles of the jaw, neck and shoulders. By working through the neck, shoulders, and jaw (both internally and externally) we can help to eradicate the dysfunction that is creating the pain/tension throughout these areas. We do this by releasing the fascial adhesions in each area through a series of structural integration techniques that are designed to help reorganize and balance the connective tissue and musculature, alleviating the symptoms of this very painful and often frustrating condition.

 

At the end of the day, our goal at Structura is to provide you with the perfect recipe for a healthier, balanced, and pain-free body.

Tiffany from West Valley, UT Testimonial

I was having some lower back pain and and they’re deep tissue massage helped me feel better. The therapist was really nice and I felt amazing after the 60-minute session. I would highly recommend anyone with back pain to go to them. -Tiffany

Nick from Kaysville, UT Testimonial

 

I was in a car accident and hurt my neck and low back. I came into Structura Body Therapies and they helped me get rid of the pain I was having. I would recommend to anyone that has been in an accident to come in and get some bodywork done from Structura!

Jeannie from Clearfield, UT Testimonial

I am a 62 year old female. For several years, I have become less flexible and stiff. I was introduced to Structura and finished the 10 weekly sessions of Structural Integration. They are very professional and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend Structura Body Therapies’ therapy.

Jon from Ogden Utah Testimonial

Working with Structura Body Therapies has been a life-changing experience. They are not only extremely skilled in their practice, but are very educational. I noticed a big difference after the first visit

John
Ogden, UT

Kellie from Hooper, UT Testimonial

I am running again! Less than a year ago, I had a doctor, physical therapist, and a chiropractor all tell me I needed to stop running because of constant back and neck pain, along with ankle and groin injuries. Well, they were wrong! Because of Stuctura Body Therapies, in the last 2 months, I have ran a half marathon, a 5K, and I am continuing to run 3 times a week. The 10-week Structural Integration program, and continued maintenance, have been a true blessing for me. The therapists and staff at Structura are the best, and are professional and caring. So grateful to have found this amazing technique.

Debra Testimonial

The people are friendly, and make you feel at ease. They are very professional, and I saw results fast. I am thankful that there is hope to take away my pain, which I have lived with for so long. I would highly recommend Structura to anyone.

J. Sanchez from Clearfield, UT Testimonial

I was introduced to Structura Body Therapies by a family member.  I have suffered from chronic pain for the past 9 years and the source of the pain was finally diagnosed. I started coming to Structura to see how their therapies could help me before, between, and after the two hip surgeries I would need to correct the source of my pain. I cannot express enough how pleased I am with the results of the therapy thus far!  I recently had the first surgery and the therapies from Structura Body Therapies have cut my healing time by 4 weeks! I am looking very forward to completing my next surgery and then starting the Structural Integration program with Structura.

Susan from Neveda Testimonial

I was in a car accident and hurt my neck and low back. I came into Structura Body Therapies and they helped me get rid of the pain I was having. I would recommend to anyone that has been in an accident to come in and get some bodywork done from Structura!

Lisa from Layton, UT Testimonial

I felt so good after each of the 10 sessions of Structural Integration. Parts of my body that bothered me before the session felt so much better after being worked on. My knees that hurt before, didn’t bother me after being worked on.

Kaylee from North Ogden, UT Testimonial

I was experiencing a lot of knee pain after having surgery for a torn ACL. Months of physical therapy and a 2nd knee surgery didn’t help the pain and issues I was having. I was ready to just live with the pain but I decided to give Structura’s therapy a try. It has helped my knee tremendously! My knee pain is gone and my range of motion is back! So happy I found this therapy! If you are experiencing pain that your doctors can’t figure out, I would highly recommend Structura’s therapy!

Jessica from Ogden, UT Testimonial

Structura has truly helped me so much! It was a long road to recovery, but I skipped the surgeries and was able to naturally heal over time. I continue to go on a regular basis for maintenance now. This is an amazing way to stay in top performance and learn about mobility and movement.

Annie from Layton, UT Testimonial

I’ve been able to get my life back thanks to the therapists at Structura. Taylor and Skye were amazing at listening and critically thinking. They were both very professional. I had dealt with 1.5 years of debilitating pain in my lower back and shooting pain down my legs. After physical therapy, multiple steroid shots, and mediations to deal with the pain I heard about Structura. Thanks to these amazing people I can sleep through the night, enjoy activities I love, and play with my kids. I would highly recommend them to anyone needing more than a relaxing massage.

Pamela from Utah Testimonial

I was afraid to try Structura because I heard the therapy might be painful. But it was going into months and months with plantar fasciitis and not being able to walk without limping and waddling. That was painful too. Through the therapy sessions, I found that I was twisted and seized up all over. I’m not sure when the fasciitis actually completely healed, but it did 100%. The therapy was a little painful, but nothing like the pain of months of fasciitis and years of waddling. At 58 years old, I can finally move my legs again so I can walk normally and start exercising.

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