A neuromuscular (TMJ / TMD) and physiological approach for physiotherapists
If you are a registered physiotherapist and are either trained in temporomandibular joint evaluations or you have an interest in being involved in this area of physiotherapy you may be interested to know that there is a rise in demand for physiotherapists who have been involved in or have knowledge of this area.
As with all physiotherapy tasks, to help sufferers of temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD you will be expected to evaluate whether a sufferer has a significant problem with his or her TMJ by performing a detailed evaluation of the jaw, neck and facial structure. From that point on, you could be offering the patient a precise neuromuscular exercise routine which addresses the postural muscles and the neck and shoulder muscles, emphasizing the area around the TMJs.
Manual therapy may also be a requirement, as well as using ultrasound, heat or electrical stimulation and acupuncture as a way of decreasing the discomfort felt by the sufferer. You will also be expected to suggest stress management and relaxation techniques as well as getting the patient into a regular health and fitness program.
TMJ pain and neuromuscular physiotherapeutic treatment
Symptoms of TMJ pain can be quite varied, but generally involve pain in the jaw region which radiates to the face, neck and shoulders through the nervous system such as the trigeminal nerve that lies in the face and jaw. If there is any misalignment in the TMJ, clicking, cracking and popping sounds often take place when the sufferer tries to participate in everyday facial movements such as eating, chewing, yawning and laughing. Pain is often associated with these movements, too.
When it comes to the causes of TMJ pain, these are as varied as the symptoms and may be as a result of an injury, such as whiplash, arthritis, stress, teeth grinding and clenching which puts extra pressure on the TMJ when it’s not in correct alignment. Many of these symptoms can be alleviated by your skills as a physiotherapist.
By conducting a physical examination of the flexibility of the TMJ by checking the joint when it moves up, down and sideways you will be able to feel how mobile the joint is. You can also feel how the muscles inside the mouth are functioning. From your observations you should be able to tell if your skills as a physiotherapist can help the sufferer or recommend other health professionals, such as a dentist or doctor.
Benefit from our knowledge
If you have an interest in treating TMD victims and you want to add to your knowledge base or even share your own knowledge with like minded professionals you have the chance to join the ICCMO where you will meet other physiotherapists who have a keen interest in treating this disorder and have attained additional skills and knowledge in order to treat these problems more effectively.
There are ways in which your membership of ICCMO can be particularly fulfilling as you can contribute your knowledge to professionals all around the world some who have been working to solve the pain and suffering that those who have to bear TMJ pain to those who are new into this area of neuromuscular techniques to find pain solutions.
Typically, you can seek solutions to some of the problems you have encountered with some of your patients and you can contribute ideas to ICCMO’s knowledge base. All of this makes your profession more satisfying and complete.
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