The connection of TMJ and posture: postural phenomena


Did you know that over 15 percent of adults in the United States suffer from chronic facial pain? If you experience symptoms like aching jaws, headaches or earaches, it’s possible you may be suffering because of a disorder of your temporomandibular joints, or TMJ.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint.” This acronym is often used incorrectly to refer to any disorder that comes from your TM joints not working properly. Most doctors and dentists will use the abbreviation TMD, which means “temporomandibular disorder,” instead. The acronyms TMD and TMJ are usually used interchangeably by everyone else, however.

Your TM joints are located on either side of your head, and they are responsible for all of the major movements of your jaw. The joints coordinate with the muscles, ligaments and bones in your face to allow you to do things like chewing, yawning, speaking and opening your mouth wide.

Because TM joints affect every part of your face, it is important to do everything you can to keep them properly aligned and healthy.

How Does Posture Cause TMJ Disorders?

Your body is designed to function at its best when all of your joints, bones, tendons and muscles are properly aligned. This means that any sort of poor posture can have a ripple effect on your health, ultimately leading to TMJ disorders.

Your head is intended to sit directly over your shoulders. Any deviation from this intended posture will place extra strain on your neck, spine, shoulders and jaw. This is because all of these muscles have to work much harder to hold your head upright. The human head weighs roughly eight pounds, so straining to hold it up can quickly cause pain and fatigue.

If you are living with a TMJ disorder, attempting to improve your posture is an inexpensive way to begin treatment. Proper posture will not only relieve pressure on your joints, but it can also help improve circulation and restore your airways for better breathing.

Ways to Improve Posture to Alleviate TMJ Discomfort

There are many simple exercises you can complete to help retrain your body for proper posture.

One helpful exercise you can do is jaw stretches. Allowing your jaw muscles to relax and contract will help to relieve a jaw that feels tightly clenched even when you are resting. To do this, experts recommend placing something comfortable like a soft block of wood or a wine cork between your teeth to force your jaw open. After this, alternate between 10 minutes of icing the sides of your face and warming them with a hot, moist towel. The ice and heat will let your muscles stretch and contract properly, improving circulation and easing tension.

Other people often find that activities such as yoga, Pilates, physical therapy and guided stretching can help make permanent improvements to their posture over time.

While TMJ disorders can be the source of a lot of pain and stress, it is important to remember that there are steps you can take to help minimize the pain and discomfort.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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