How the Holiday Season Can Make TMD Worse (and What to Do)

The holiday season can be fun, joyous, and filled with good food, family, and friends. Unfortunately, the pressures of shopping, cooking, attending professional and personal holiday parties, gift giving, and more can leave you with some physical side effects! If you are prone to TMD (which you’ve likely heard called TMJ), then this time of year can give you some extra grief. So if you’re noticing more headaches, jaw pain, facial tension, or other TMD symptoms than usual, it may be the stress of the season to blame. Here’s how to spot TMD and how PT can help. 

TMD is temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Often mistakenly referred to as TMJ, your temporomandibular joint is affected; it’s the joint and muscles that help you open and close your mouth. When your TMJ isn’t functioning quite right, you can experience TMD – which is when you’ll notice symptoms like:

  • Jaw pain
  • Clicking and popping of the jaw
  • Mouth locking open or closed
  • Tired feeling in jaw
  • Tension in facial muscles
  • Headaches
  • Pain in head and neck
  • Difficulty chewing

TMD can have several causes, such as:

  • arthritis
  • certain connective tissue conditions
  • chronic tooth grinding or jaw clenching

In fact, since many people unconsciously clench their jaw when stressed, holiday stress may contribute to your TMD symptoms increasing. While TMD is often associated with dental professionals, did you know that physical therapy offers relief from TMD discomfort and improvement of symptoms? Your physical therapist works with you (often in hands-on therapy) to help restore proper movement of your TMJ, helping to reduce TMD symptoms. In addition to manual PT treatment for TMD, innovative treatment like dry needling may be beneficial, as well as stretching/exercises you do at home.

If you’re stressed out this holiday season and feeling every bit of it thanks to TMD, don’t suffer in silence. Body One Physical Therapy is here to make this season merry and bright! Our team of compassionate, expert physical therapists works with clients of all ages and activity levels and we’d love to get you feeling in the spirit of the season – not miserable from the stress of it. We’re locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Give yourself the gift of feeling better, call Body One today!