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5 fields who should know about your certified trismus therapy service....
What's the difference between trismus and TMJ disorder?
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5 kinds of healthcare professionals
who should know about
your certified trismus therapy services

It's all about building professional relationships with physicians and surgeons who commonly treat patients with trismus. Thinking about trismus etiologies will help you identify target departments. Typical origins of trismus include oral surgery, radiation fibrosis syndrome, mandibular trauma, and stroke. What about dentists, you ask? Dentists treat infection-induced trismus from dental abscesses and other kinds of infections. This kind of trismus can be resolved with antibiotics without the need for SLP therapy. Thus, SLPs with specialized training and certification in trismus should market their services to physicians and surgeons in the fields of:

  • Radiation oncology
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Neurology
What's the different between trismus and TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder and trismus are not interchangeable terms and they are not the same disorder. 'TMJ' is an acronym for temporo-mandibular joint. A patient who has been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder can have trismus as a result of the TMJ disorder. To resolve the TMJ-induced trismus, the TMJ disorder needs to be medically managed. However, a patient who is diagnosed with trismus does not necessarily have a TMJ disorder. 

It all comes down to the etiologies. The etiologies of trismus and TMJ disorders are often different. A TMJ disorder stems from an injury to or erosion of the cartilage in the TMJ. This can, in turn, cause the musculature surrounding the TMJ to become guarded, or contracted,which is the body's way of preventing further damage to the system. Muscle-guarding, in both TMJ disorder and trismus, is a physiological response to injury and often leads to reduced range of motion in muscle function and muscle atrophy. Trismus, on the other hand, is a physiological response to damage to the muscles of mastication (masseter, buccinator, medial and lateral pterygoids, and temporalis) and/or to the facial cranial nerve and the trigeminal/mandibular cranial nerve as a result of oral surgery, oral radiation, mandibular trauma, stroke, and many other potential etiologies. 

As a result of differing etiologies, trismus and TMJ disorders are treated with different therapeutic approaches. TMJ disorders are often treated with heat, ice, ultrasound, gentle stretching, massage, injections, and if severe, surgery is also an option. Jaw-stretching exercises can increase pain and lead to lock-jaw in patients with TMJ disorders. However, trismus often involves active and passive jaw stretching exercises with jaw mobility devices and other oral motor tools. Heat is not recommended for patients who have trismus as a result of oral cancer. However, surgery and injections are therapeutic options for severe cases of trismus and TMJ disorders.
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