Tempero-mandibular Joint (Jaw) Disorders

Our physiotherapists at River Heights Physiotherapy in Winnipeg have the advanced training and experience to treat your jaw pain.

Tempero-mandibular Joint disorders or TMD are a group of medical problems related to the jaw.  Symptoms can include some of the following:

  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide
  • Headaches
  • Ear aches, ringing in the ears, or other ear symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Bite problems

Types of TMD:

Muscle Disorders: These disorders include pain in the muscles that control jaw function, as well as the muscles of the neck and shoulder. This type of pain is called myofascial pain and is the most common cause of TMD.

Derangement Disorders: These disorders are related to the derangement of the disc or bones in the TM joint.

Degenerative Disorders: These are related to wear and tear of the TM joint such as arthritis. They lead to destruction of the cartilage that covers the TM joint.

Causes of TMD:

TMD can be caused by muscle tension, injuries, and wear due to aging.

Tension in the muscles that control the jaw, and of the neck are often the cause of symptoms. Many factors contribute to muscle tension such as poor posture, postural strain from work, stress, tooth grinding or clenching, gum chewing, chewing only on one side of the mouth, or tooth misalignment.

A severe injury such as a blow to the jaw could fracture the jaw or damage the disc, muscles, and ligaments. Whiplash injuries can cause damage to the TM joint, and often symptoms don't show up until a year later.

Wear and tear of the joint due to aging can cause stiffness, pain, and muscle tension. Arthritis of the jaw and joint stiffness can also result from injury.

The Physiotherapist's Role:

Physiotherapists are specially trained to assess, diagnose, and treat TMD's. We often work in cooperation with your dentist to ensure optimal results. We take a detailed medical, dental, and lifestyle history to get to the root cause of your problem.

We do a detailed bio-mechanical examination of your jaw and neck. We assess all of the muscles, joints, and ligaments, as well as the TM joint discs. We can identify muscle tension, shortening, and weakness. Movement quality and control are identified. Ligament laxity and joint stiffness are tested. We feel for popping or grating sounds and test to make sure the TM joint disc is moving properly. We assess the facial and neck nerves. We also examine your bite, and will refer you to a dentist if indicated.

Treatment often includes hands on therapy to restore joint movement, and relax muscles in the face and neck. Acupuncture can help relax muscles and reduce inflammation. Ultrasound helps with inflammation and healing. Heat or ice are often used.  Specific exercises will be provided to restore movement, reduce joint sounds, improve strength, and relax muscles. We educate you on how to modify your lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your condition.

Don't suffer with TMD! Physiotherapy can help!


To get treatment from our knowledgeable Physiotherapists call us at 204-987-9222 or click here to contact us.


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