Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as TMJ or TMJ Syndrome, is a common dysfunction of the jaw that causes mild to severe pain. The TMJ is a joint that acts as a hinge in connecting your jawbone to the skull. While everyone has a TMJ, not everyone has TMJ dysfunction. Common symptoms of TMJ syndrome or dysfunction include pain in the jaw, clicking or locking of the jaw, and difficulty chewing. As the pain gets more severe, it is important to receive professional treatment in order to relieve pain. These TMJ exercises can help relieve pain while you are in the process of coming up with a treatment plan that is effective.
1. Tongue movement
This exercise is simple to do and can help immediately help relieve pain in the TMJ. Start by opening your mouth as wide as possible, then move your tongue towards the roof of your mouth, placing the tip of the tongue back towards your tonsils. As you move your tongue towards the back of the mouth, use the tip of your tongue to feel around for a soft spot on the roof of the mouth. Once you find this spot, use the tip of your tongue to apply pressure for 5 seconds. Then, stick your tongue out of your mouth as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this pattern 5 times.
2. Face massage
A nice face massage can be given by yourself or by someone else who is willing to help you out! Start by getting a warm washcloth or heating pad and apply it to the outside of your face on your TMJ. Once your jaw is warmed up, use your fingers to gently massage the jaw using slow, circular movements. Take your time moving up and down the jawline, applying heat as necessary for comfort. This should feel good and relaxing and can be repeated as necessary to relieve some pain.
This next exercise will help relieve pressure and pain with no equipment necessary! First, place your thumb under your chin and apply light pressure upwards. Next, open your mouth, still applying that pressure against the chin, and hold for 5 seconds. Close your mouth and repeat this process. Think of this like resistance training for your jaw.
The “pen in mouth” exercise is another simple method for relieving pain associated with TMJ syndrome. First, you will need a pen, pencil, or any object that is a similar size in diameter. Hold the object to your mouth, oriented as if it were corn on the cob. Place this in between your teeth and slowly move your jaw from one side to another, holding for 10 seconds on each side. You can repeat this with larger items, such as a marker, as you gain strength in the TMJ.
For this exercise, you will need to open your mouth as wide as comfortably possible. Place your hand on one side of the jaw and apply light pressure against the jaw. This should cause your jaw to move sideways, moving with the pressure being applied by your hand. Hold this for 10 seconds then repeat on the other side of your face. These motions will stretch the TMJ and help relieve tension and pain you may be experiencing.
TMJ Treatment in NY, NJ & PA
While these exercises can help relieve pain in the jaw, those suffering from TMJ pain will need professional treatment to get long term relief. At JAG-ONE Physical Therapy, we are proud to offer a variety of treatment options to help patients achieve less pain. Contact JAG- ONE Physical Therapy today to learn more about TMJ treatment in New Jersey, and New York, and Pennsylvania.
*Reader’s Note: If any of the above cause pain, please discontinue the exercise.