Can Extended Computer Use be a Cause of TMJ?
Researchers are now finding a link between TMJ and computer use. The link is most closely associated with the way we posture our bodies while sitting at the computer. Most often we have a tendency to sit slouched forward, collapsed within ourselves, or in an unbalanced position for extended periods of time: all contributing factors to the connection between TMJ and computer use.
The TM joints are located on each side of a person’s lower jaw, a complex of tendons and muscles that allow us to open and close our mouths. When one or both of those joints sustain injury, or are compromised in any way, the result is TMJ.
Can TMJ Be Prevented if You Work at a Computer All Day?
Since many of us work at a computer for more than 40 hours per week, there are some things we can do to prevent TMJ caused or exacerbated by computer use:
▪ Be aware of how you are sitting at the computer. If you’re slouched, tilted, or off-balance, reposition yourself, or take a short break from the computer to realign your body.
▪ Avoid a leaning head posture whereby your ears are past your shoulders. This posture puts undue strain on the neck, jaw, and facial muscles. Be sure to position your ears above your shoulders when sitting at the computer.
▪ Adjust your work station to suit your body’s needs. This includes your chair height, lumbar position, and the angle of your computer monitor.
The link between TMJ and computer use can be remedied by following these and other posture guidelines to keep your body aligned and your weight evenly distributed through your spine.
Not sure if you have TMJ? Most common TMJ symptoms can include:
▪ Pain, usually associated with chewing and jaw movement
▪ Sore jaw muscles
▪ Neck tension
▪ Incidents of suddenly limited jaw opening and locking
▪ Ear symptoms, such as ringing, humming, or buzzing
Of course, there are other contributing factors to what causes TMJ, including trauma to the area in a collision, stress, or a number of other psychological factors. But the importance of posture awareness can aid in reducing the discomfort of TMJ caused by computer use.
Note: Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is often erroneously interchanged with temporomandibular disorder (TMD) a condition which leads to pain and, in some cases, limited jaw function. In this article, we’ll refer to TMD as TMJ, which is the term that most people associate with this condition.
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum has been practicing in New York City and Long Island for over 20 years. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat bruxism, TMJ and TMD problems, Sleep Apnea, facial pain, muscle pain disorders, nerve pain disorders, tension headaches, and snoring. Learn more about Dr. Tanenbaum here.