Exercises are a practical component to the successful rehabilitation to the strained tempormandibular (jaw) joint. One must be cautioned to the execution of these exercises in order to prevent re-injury of the joint. Any exercise program must be judiciously applied. The execution of these exercises must be within the directed limits described.
Range of Motion, a warm-up stretch
Upon reduced pain with successful use of medications, appliance therapy and prior home care instructions move the jaws in the manner described. With the teeth lightly touching in a closed mouth position envision a pencil pointing directly down from your chin. The pencil is pointing to home plate of an imaginary baseball diamond.
- Move your jaw forward and to the right, pointing the pencil as if to first base of that baseball diamond.
- Move the jaw to second base, as if straight forward from the home plate or closed position.
- Move the jaw to the third base, forward and left of the closed position. Move the jaw back to home plate.
- Your movements should take you around the baselines.
- You can also move backwards around the bases, home to third, second, first and home again.
- Your movements should allow you to “cross the pitcher's mound,” moving back and forth from first to third and forward and backward from home plate to second base.
- Each movement should be repeated eight to twelve times four to six times daily.
- Caution:Do not move your jaw outside baselines. If tenderness or pain occurs cease this stretch and notify the office.
Strengthening the Jaw Joint
- Place your finger into the notch in the front of your chin then apply a slight resistance to cause the nail bed of your finger nail to blanch.
- Keeping your elbow next to your side, glide your jaw along the same motions as above.
- Stop if a painful episode results.
- Notify the office and reinstitute the baseball diamond activity without resistance.
- As the above exercises are accomplished without difficulty, open your mouth as widely as possible. Sometimes popsicle sticks can aid jaw opening with leverage between the front teeth.
- Apply light pressure, do not force the jaw: aid it in opening. Ideally you should open to the width of three fingers.
- Once this width is easily attained, use your finger, as above to the notch of your chin, to offer resistance to both opening and closing.
Neck and Shoulder
- After you successfully perform the above exercises, proceed by picturing a pencil extending forward from your chin.
- Draw a smile line by moving your chin upward to the right and back to normal posture then, upward to the left.
- Place your palm to the side of your head and press your head against your palm using your neck and shoulders.
- Do the same with the front and back of your head with your opposite arm as well.
- Notify the office if a painful episode occurs.