Restricted opening of the mouth due to pain and stiffness in the jaw region can be, broadly speaking, due to muscle or joint problems. The jaw joint (or TMJ) is unique to other joints. It consists of two mini-joints (or compartments) allowing a roll and slide. The roll and slide mechanism can be felt at work when a finger tip is lightly placed just to the front of the ear. As the mouth opens the jaw bone can be felt to slide below and forward from the finger tip.
A physiotherapist needs to perform a skilled informed examination to know the cause of limited mouth opening, as the risk of giving inadequate, damaging treatment is present. Aside from assessment of the TMJ and disc, examination includes the muscles and joints of the jaw and neck, coordination of movement control and swallowing. Nerve and blood vessels are also examined.
How will this help? Accuracy in diagnosis without the cost and wait time for an MRI will mean effective and skilled management by a physiotherapist sooner. We’ll be happy to treat you so you can enjoy your next burger.
If the disc is in the wrong place then the hinge mechanism will be obstructed resulting in less slide and reduced opening. This condition is anterior disc displacement without reduction or ADDWOR.