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Physical Therapy for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition. It affects more than 10 million people in the U.S. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) plays a vital role in our ability to eat and do daily activities such as talking and yawning. TMD can result in pain with a wide range of daily activities. It can also affect sleep. The good news is that a physical therapist can help identify and treat issues with the TMJ. You don’t have to live with it.

What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

The TMJ is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ears. TMD is a condition that limits the natural function of the jaw.

Symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain/fatigue
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Popping sounds in your jaw
  • Locking jaw

Associated symptoms include:

  • Ringing in your ears
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Neck pain

What to Expect from Physical Therapy for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

A physical therapist conducts an in-depth physical exam that includes:

  • Jaw tracking and neck movement/range of motion
  • Soft tissue and muscle contributing to or affected by TMD
  • Posture
  • Joint mobility

Your treatment may include:

  • Posture correction
  • Education on causes and daily changes you can make to alleviate pain
  • Manual therapy techniques to improve and restore normal jaw movements
  • Instruction on a home exercise program you can use to help manage your TMD on your own
  • Pain management techniques, as needed
  • Referral to other health care professionals, such as a dentist, if teeth alignment is the cause or a bite guard is needed

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