TMD or TMJ? Which is it?

By Andrew Noble

You may have heard of people dealing with TMD or you yourself may have been told you have TMD, but what does this mean? And is it different from TMJ?

Short answer: Yes. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint and is the name of the joint while TMD, or Temporomandibular Dysfunction is the name of the problem, or rather what goes wrong with the joint.

Long answer: The TMJ refers to the main joint in your jaw. It’s one of the most active joints in your body and is used in many everyday activities such as talking, chewing or even yawning. Basically, if your mouth is moving, you’ve got your TMJ to thank.

Meanwhile, TMD is the term used to describe that something is not working with the TMJ and is basically a flag to say that something in or around the TMJ needs to be addressed to restore function and stop you experiencing that awful jaw pain. Particularly because it is very difficult to give the jaw a rest, given we tend to use it an awful lot in day to day life.

Do I have TMD?

We can’t say without examining the joint, however, those who have suffered a TMD tend to have some common symptoms such as; clicking or popping when moving the jaw, pain in front of the ear, difficulty chewing or opening the mouth, or even headaches and neck pain.

What could be causing it?

There are many factors which could be the cause of TMJ pain or TMD, from stress and muscle spasm to inflammatory conditions or direct trauma, have a chat with your osteopath for help figuring out what could be causing yours.

What can we do?

Osteopaths aim to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and restore function to joints that are experiencing dysfunction. As such, treatment for TMD should be performed and administered as soon as symptoms arise to prevent further complications and address pain quickly, as TMD is rarely an isolated condition and is often linked to further dysfunctions in the neck, head, shoulders and upper back.
Treatment may involve a combination of techniques aimed at restoring function the TMJ.

These techniques may typically include:

  • Intra-oral myofascial release (treatment inside the mouth)
  • Joint manipulation
  • Massage techniques
  • Stretching
  • Joint mobilisation
  • And Rehabilitative Exercise Prescription

So what should I do?

If you are struggling with jaw pain or discomfort around the upper body and face, book an appointment with us to assess what could be going on and we’ll get started on your treatment journey together.

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