I started physiotherapy for TMJ dysfunction. I’ve been having TMJ-related pain and “clicking” in my jaw for ~ a year. My physiotherapist said that they have ~90% success rate with treating TMJ and it generally takes 2 sessions a week for 6 weeks, in addition to the intake session. That’s a lot of sessions, but my jaw has been killing me, so it’s worth it.
I learned that my chronic neck and shoulder pain is related to my TMJ pain. My left shoulder is higher than my right shoulder. It’s been that way for way over a decade. And my jaw opens to the left when I open my mouth – it’s quite out of alignment and it’s noticeable when I talk or open my mouth. Yikes!
The big take home from session 1 is that I need to pay better attention to my posture – especially while at work since I sit behind a desk all day long (and truthfully, my posture is atrocious).
Also I need to stop:
- leaning my chin on my hand – I learned that I do that all of the time and it adds extra pressure to the jaw joint.
- clicking my jaw all of the time. I was doing this a lot all day long – I have to stop that. Every time I click my jaw, it’s coming out of alignment and I’m wearing down the cartilage – that’s not good!
- eating things that need a lot of chewing (e.g., steak, pork chops, granola bars), or things that need me to open my mouth wide (like hamburgers). No raw vegetables! Fruit needs to be cut up.
- balancing my phone between my shoulders and my ear – terrible for alignment.
- yawning (this is hard for me – I yawn A LOT – this is how I release energy). Or if I do yawn, now I can only open up my mouth a tiny bit. Only tiny stifled yawns.
- opening my mouth wide.
And throughout my day, I need to practice my posture, and keep my jaw soft, with my tongue in the proper position (which is lightly resting on the roof of my mouth).
That’s a lot of things to remember!
It helped that my physiotherapist told me that it was probably not one thing that brought my jaw out of alignment and it’ll probably take many small things to bring it back into alignment.
I also purchased a heating pad for my neck, shoulders and jaw.
And I’m looking into a hands-free headset for my one hour conference calls.
It’s been four days since my appointment and I’ve been trying to do all of the above things and I do feel like it’s really helping. The constant soreness / throbbing around my jaw has dissipated substantially just by being mindful about how much I am using my jaw and watching my posture. I’m so pleased – I wish I had started physiotherapy sooner.
I’ll be posting all of my updates in this one post, so that it’s all in one place. Stay tuned.
Session 2 – October 6, 2015
My second session started off very relaxing – lying down under a blanket with a heating pad wrapped around my jaw and my neck with support under my knees. Sweet! My physiotherapist did some manipulations with my neck and jaw, and then taught me my second exercise: opening my jaw only as far as I can with my tongue still on the roof of my mouth, making sure that my lower jaw stays centre (i.e., doesn’t move to the left). 6x, 6x per day.
I have hardly been cracking my jaw in the recent days. My jaw overall has been less sore, but my neck and shoulders have been killing me in the last couple of days. And my posture at work is still atrocious.
Session 4 – Oct 13, 2015
My fourth session was similar to my second session. In addition, during the heating pad time, my physiotherapist used electro-stimulation on my neck and shoulders for 15 minutes. In addition, he applied an ultrasound to my left shoulder to get it to release. My shoulders are starting to look more symmetrical. Each session, an additional “exercise” has been added to my homework. Added homework: neck stretches (session 3) and side neck stretches (session 4).
- Do’s and don’ts when you have TMJ issues here.
- Simple self care management techniques for TMJ issues here.
- Info about how physiotherapy can help with TMJ issues here.