What is TMJ pain?

The temporomandibular joint, otherwise better known as the TMJ, is the articulation between the temporal bone of the cranium, the disc and the condyle of the mandible. This paired joint comprises of two key motions, rotation and translation, both of which allow the mouth to open and close. This functional relationship is important in allowing us to chew, talk or yawn without much of a thought.

However, sometimes our TMJs can become painful or symptomatic, this is often referred to as a TMJ disorder. These symptoms can be of arthrogenic (the joint, disc etc) or myogenic (muscular) in nature. However, often these two are paired in a large portion of TMJ disorders, especially when they are chronic or ongoing.

There are factors which have shown to increase the likelihood of developing a TMJ disorder. Some of these factors include habitual clenching, grinding, occlusal issues, central nervous system sensitivity and more.


How do you assess the TMJ?

Thorough history of the TMJ pain (I.e. When it started, type of symptoms, aggravating factors etc)

Comprehensive examination, viewing posture, TMJ motion, occlusion, palpatory findings, pain mapping and more


How do you treat TMJ disorders?

Similar to how you would treat other painful joints and muscles

Manual therapies, may include dry needling, specific joint manipulations, mobilisations and soft tissue therapy

Progressive exercise and rehabilitation plan to promote better muscle and joint function



author avatar
Luka Fantela