If you’ve heard about millennials in the news lately, it’s probably because someone is claiming that they’re killing something. From department stores to golf, millennials have even been pinned with the cold-blooded murder of lunch.
But while millennials aren’t spending their spare time destroying important American industries like napkins, they’re experiencing unprecedented levels of mental illness, including anxiety and depression. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that millennials experience more stress than any other generation.
Report Shows Millennials Struggle with TMJ
Stress negatively impacts our bodies in many ways. One of those ways is by creating muscle tension in the jaw, which can trigger or even develop into TMJ. People who carry a lot of stress may clench or grind their teeth, either consciously during the day or unconsciously while sleeping, a condition known as bruxism and a known symptom of TMJ. TMJ sufferers often experience chronic headaches, and TMJ can even result in that neck and shoulder pain we so commonly associate with being extremely stressed.
ATI Physical Therapy recently released their new annual report, The State of Physical Therapy. This report analyses the company’s more than 600,000 physical therapy patients to identify patterns and trends. One of those patterns indicated that millennials have a notably higher than average tendency to receive physical therapy as a treatment for TMJ. ATI’s report suggests that this could be connected to millennials’ unusually high levels of stress.
Can Physical Therapy Treat TMJ?
Unfortunately, these findings may be exposing a not just a trend in millennial TMJ treatment, but a failing. While physical therapy can help reduce pain and discomfort that stems from TMJ and may even be able to increase muscle mobility, it isn’t enough to treat TMJ on its own. It may be that millennials aren’t suffering more from TMJ than previous generations, but simply that they are seeking out physical therapy for it more than previous generations — which would make sense, considering that millennials have already demonstrated an increased interest in alternative medicine.
While getting physical therapy as a part of your TMJ treatment isn’t a bad idea, it would be a mistake to limit your treatment to physical therapy. TMJ is more than just stress and muscle tension: it’s a serious disorder that affects some of the most complex and delicate joints in the body. Untreated TMJ can result in extreme discomfort and pain, not just in the jaw, but even extending to symptoms throughout the body.
Luckily, the most effective treatments for TMJ aren’t really any more invasive than physical therapy. The root cause of TMJ’s painful symptoms is the misalignment of the jaw, which in most cases can be corrected with a bite splint, a neuromuscular appliance similar to an athlete’s mouthguard that simply holds the jaw in the position of least tension. The team approach is often best for treating TMJ, and your physical therapist and TMJ dentist can work together to give you better results than either treatment alone.
No matter what generation you’re from, your best bet for TMJ treatment is speaking with an experienced TMJ dentist about the most effective, least invasive options. Call (303) 691-0267 or contact us online today to make an appointment.