TMJ Trauma and Its Rehabilitation
Clinical Monograph 13
By R. C. Schafer, DC, PhD, FICC
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DYSFUNCTION
Proper treatment of TMJ dysfunction must be based on a thorough case history, a complete physical workup, an evaluation of the cranial respiratory impulse and craniosacral mechanisms, and a detailed examination of the TMJ, cranium, and cervical spine. Unfortunately, radiographs to determine abnormal joint space are rarely successful unless over 30% of the bone has been destroyed.
A blow to the jaw is easily transmitted to the temporal bones. As mentioned previously, osteopathic research suggests that a subluxated temporal bone is often the focal fault. This is reported to be grossly indicated by flattening (temporal internal rotation) or protrusion (temporal external rotation) of an ear from the skull.
The major symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are masticator muscle fatigue and pain, which are usually described as a severe, unilateral (rarely bilateral), dull facial ache that is often fairly localized to an area just anterior to the tragus of the ear. The onset of pain is gradual, progressively increasing over several days or months. It is aggravated by chewing and opening and closing the mouth. Precipitation is often made by eating an apple, a wide yawn, snorkeling, prolonged dental work, playing a wind instrument, prolonged chewing, a bump or pressure on the mandible, sleeping in the prone position, or a cervical whiplash.
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