physiotherapy for tmj calgary nw

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a complex condition affecting many individuals, causing discomfort and impacting daily life. At Market Mall Physio & Chiro in Calgary NW, we specialize in providing targeted physiotherapy to address and alleviate TMJ symptoms.

Understanding the main causes of TMJ

TMJ is a multifactorial condition with various contributing factors. One common cause is teeth grinding (bruxism), particularly during sleep, which places excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Jaw clenching, often a subconscious response to stress, can also lead to TMJ by exerting sustained pressure on the jaw muscles, resulting in pain and limited movement.

The role of arthritis and trauma in TMJ

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to TMJ pain through focal inflammation and damage to the joint structures. This often leads to stiffness and reduced jaw mobility. Additionally, trauma or injury to the head or jaw, such as whiplash or sports-related impacts, can significantly alter TMJ function.

Post-surgical TMJ pain

TMJ discomfort is not uncommon following certain medical procedures. For instance, breast cancer surgeries and prolonged surgeries can place undue pressure on the TMJ, leading to pain and dysfunction.

Stress, posture, and malocclusion: Additional TMJ triggers

High stress levels can increase muscle tension, leading to prolonged clenching and bruxism, exacerbating TMJ symptoms. While the role of posture in TMJ is debated, research suggests that cervical and thoracic spinal alignment can impact TMJ function. Malocclusion, or misalignment of teeth, also places stress on the TMJ and should be addressed by dental professionals.

Overuse and daily habits affecting TMJ

Common issues like excessive gum chewing or favouring one side of the mouth for chewing can strain the TMJ. Similarly, habits like eating hard foods or nail biting create constant jaw movement and impact, contributing to TMJ discomfort.

The cumulative effect of these factors on TMJ

Over time, these various factors can lead to pain sensitization in the TMJ. With increased sensitivity, even minor stressors can trigger amplified pain responses, making effective treatment crucial.

Can TMJ be effectively treated with physiotherapy?

Yes, physiotherapy is a highly effective treatment for TMJ issues, which affect approximately 20-30% of all Canadians. It’s crucial to seek physiotherapists with additional TMJ credentials due to the sensitivity of the condition. At Market Mall, our physiotherapists focus on jaw biomechanics, muscle release, and postural correction. We also believe in a collaborative approach and will update your dentist to create a network of professionals dedicated to providing you with the best possible care.

Physiotherapists at Market Mall utilize a variety of techniques such as joint mobilizations, manual therapy, dry needling, acupuncture, and other pain management modalities. Each patient is involved in co-creating a personalized plan of care with their physiotherapist, acting as a roadmap to recovery.

What activities should be avoided with TMJ?

Lifestyle changes are crucial for patients with TMJ, especially those with high sensitivity. It’s important to stop habits like nail biting, biting pens, chewing gum (opt for mints instead), and using teeth as a tool (like opening packages). Other recommendations include cutting up hard foods into smaller pieces, avoiding prolonged poor postures, and refraining from wide jaw movements. Additionally, patients should resist the urge to poke at the sore TMJ area, as this typically exacerbates pain.

Understanding the healing process of TMJ

The duration of TMJ healing is highly individual and depends on several factors. Key predictors of recovery include age, the duration and nature of jaw pain (acute, chronic, post-surgical vs trauma-based), adherence to the plan of care, collaboration with dental professionals (like using a night guard if necessary), and making lifestyle changes.

Tips for sleeping with TMJ

While there is no universal “best” sleeping position for TMJ, finding a comfortable position is important. Focus on making other lifestyle changes before attempting to modify your sleeping habits, as this can be more challenging. Using a night guard, particularly for those with teeth-grinding issues, can be beneficial. This should be discussed with both your physiotherapist and dentist for a coordinated approach to your TMJ care.


If you’re experiencing TMJ pain in Calgary NW, Market Mall Physio & Chiro is here to help. Our expert team is dedicated

to providing you with comprehensive care that targets the root causes of your TMJ discomfort. We believe in a holistic approach, combining physiotherapy techniques with education and lifestyle modifications to ensure long-term relief and improved jaw function.

Don’t let TMJ pain control your life. Embrace the opportunity for relief and improved well-being with our specialized physiotherapy services. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards a life free from TMJ pain.

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