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Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) fracture (jaw fracture) is the second most common fracture to the bones of the face. Motor vehicle accidents, assault, sports injuries, and falls are the most common causes of TMJ fractures. Following a TMJ fracture, especially if the inside surface of the mouth is torn, there also is a risk of infection, which can lead to osteomyelitis of the jaw. In cases of facial trauma and pain, diagnosis is made by an emergency medicine physician at a hospital or other emergency clinic. A less severe fracture is diagnosed when the bone is still in place, but has a small fracture line where the bone has broken. A more severe fracture can involve a larger fracture line, partially displaced sections of bone, or a dislocation.
An extreme fracture involves displaced segments of bone or fragmented bone, with a significant alteration of bone structure.
If the fracture is severe, your physician may consider a form of splint therapy to hold the jaw steady and rest it in a proper position for healing. If the fracture is extreme, surgery may be required, or the jaw may be set and wired closed to prevent any movement and ensure complete healing. Once you have completed a course of rest or splinting, your physical therapist can help restore the natural movement of your jaw and decrease your pain. Review your medical history, and discuss any previous surgery, fractures, or other injuries to your head, neck, or jaw. Examine the TMJ to find out how well it can open, and whether there are any abnormalities in jaw motion following the fracture.
Following the examination, your physical therapist will select the appropriate treatments to improve your jaw movement and relieve your pain.
Stretching and Motion Exercises.Your physical therapist may prescribe stretches and range-of-motion exercises for the jaw. If your pain is severe, your physical therapist may apply physical modalities, such as electrical stimulation or deep heat, to reduce pain and improve motion. As TMJ fractures result from trauma to the face, avoiding situations that lead to violent behavior or accidents is key to prevention. A month later, the surgeon examined a new x-ray and told Fred his jaw was completely healed. Fred's physical therapist conducted a full examination, and noted that Fred had reduced range-of-motion in the jaw.
Fred attended physical therapy sessions twice a week that included manual therapy and gentle exercises, and noted that his jaw began to feel a lot better after just a couple of sessions.
Just this week, Fred was released from physical therapy, pain free, with his jaw function fully restored.
All physical therapists are prepared through education and experience to treat patients who have bone fractures. A physical therapist who is experienced in treating people with orthopedic or musculoskeletal problems. A physical therapist who is a board-certified clinical specialist or who completed a residency or fellowship in orthopaedics physical therapy. You can find physical therapists who have these and other credentials by using Find a PT, the online tool built by the American Physical Therapy Association to help you search for physical therapists with specific clinical expertise in your geographic area.

When you contact a physical therapy clinic for an appointment, ask about the physical therapists' experience in helping people with TMJ fracture.
During your first visit with the physical therapist, be prepared to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible, and say what makes your symptoms worse. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) believes that consumers should have access to information that could help them make health care decisions and also prepare them for their visit with their health care provider. The following articles provide some of the best scientific evidence related to physical therapy treatment of elbow fracture. October 31, 2013: After decades suffering from debilitating migraine headaches, Angelie Alciatore found relief through physical therapy.
The loss of teeth create many problems from the dissolving away of bone structure, loss of support for the face giving an increased appearance of age and wrinkles, damage to the remaining teeth that must still bear the full stresses of chewing. Even after the loss of one tooth, the jaw bone irreversibly changes if an implant does not replace the tooth.
Without chewing pressure to stimulate the bone, it begins to dissolve away immediately after extraction and continues forever unless an implant is placed. Below a healthy jaw is compared to one where all of the teeth have been removed and deterioration of the jaw occurs.
Facial sagging, premature ageing, and loss of function are the results of the shrinkage in the upper and lower jaw bones. When all teeth are present and touching throughout the mouth the teeth support each other much like the bricks in a Roman archway. The back chewing teeth begin to erupt down into the empty spaces where the lower molar teeth are missing.
The chewing forces have shifted to the front teeth and due to overloaded stress the front teeth begin to flare and fan apart creating spaces. This fanning eventually leads to looseness and gum disease and the loss of the front teeth.
This shows severe over eruption of an upper molar with most of this tooth’s roots now being out of the bone structure. Even a single missing teeth can lead to drift (this is just like taking a brick out of an arch way and seeing the arch collapse). Gum disease due to the movement and misalignment of the teeth can cause more tooth loss and decay. If the sinus is looked at internally (in cross-section), one can see that the walls become paper thin in all directions. Without the support of back chewing teeth, as the teeth randomly drift, unusual dental bites develop that cause excessive stress and damage to the joints (TMJ) that connect the two jaw bones with pain and headaches being a common side effect. Like other bones in the body, the mandible, also known as the jaw bone, and the temporal bone, the bone on the skull that forms the upper part of the jaw joint, can break when subjected to trauma.
Men aged 20 to 29 years are most likely to sustain these injuries, and are approximately 3 times more likely than women of the same age to do so.
X-rays or computed tomography (CT scan) will be ordered to determine the existence and severity of a fracture.
The instruction will include guidelines for frequency and intensity of movement to ensure your safe performance of all your exercises. Your physical therapist may also apply skilled hands-on techniques (manual therapy) to gently increase your jaw movement and relieve your pain.

Your physical therapist may teach you special "low-load" strengthening exercises that don't exert a lot of pressure on your TMJ, but can help strengthen the muscles of the jaw and restore a more natural, pain-free motion.
During the first warm spring day this month, Fred and Lily decided to go for a bike ride at a nearby state park. He suddenly lost his balance, and rode off the trail, losing control of the bike on the uneven ground. But Fred complained that it still hurt, and felt heavy, and that he still couldn't fully open his mouth.
She applied gentle hands-on techniques (manual therapy) to ease the soreness and encourage movement. Some physical therapists have a practice with a craniofacial focus, meaning that they focus on movement disorders related to the skull and facial structures.
This therapist has advanced knowledge, experience, and skills that may apply to your condition. The articles report recent research and give an overview of the standards of practice both in the United States and internationally.
Manual physical therapy interventions and exercise for patients with temporomandibular disorders. Home exercise regimes for the management of non-specific temporomandibular joint disorders. PubMed contains millions of citations to biomedical literature, including citations in the National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE database. The jaw bone (mandible) or skull bone section of the jaw (temporal bone) may be broken near or through the TMJ. Your physical therapist also will teach you exercises that help you increase the opening of your jaw and improve the way it works. Safe driving practices reduce motor-vehicle accidents, but in the event of an accident, wearing your seat belt will reduce traumatic forces to the face and head.
The article titles are linked either to a PubMed* abstract of the article or to free full text, so that you can read it or print out a copy to bring with you to your health care provider.
The jaw most often breaks along the condyles, which are rounded projections on the jaw bone.
Your physical therapist will work with you to help restore your jaw's normal movement, function, and muscular strength. Preventing falls with proper footwear, keeping walking paths clear, and other safety practices also help reduce risk. Your physical therapist can help assess your home and work environments and your daily activities to lessen your risk of injury. He assured her that he was alright, but noticed that he couldn't move his jaw very well to speak. The surgeon agreed with the physician, and also prescribed a mouth splint to ensure the jaw rested in a proper position. Physical therapists help people who have sustained TMJ fractures to relieve their pain and restore movement and function to the jaw.

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