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Jaw Pain

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) Treatment

Temporomandibular disorders are a group of musculoskeletal conditions that affect the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) and muscles that control their movement.

What are the Temporomandibular Joints?

The TMJs are located on each side in front of the ear and connect the lower jaw to the skull.

They are “loose-fitting” joints consisting of the jaw, temporal (skull) bone, a fibrous disc, ligaments and muscles that connect the lower and upper jaw, skull and neck. The muscles move the jaw for talking, chewing and swallowing and assist the neck muscles in keeping the head upright.

TMD Symptoms

TMD’s may affect the cartilage, joint disc or the muscles that control the joint. These conditions often occur together and can be caused by fatigue, tension, or spasm. It’s estimated that 75 percent of the US population has experienced at least one symptom of TMD. Most TMD’s are temporary and fluctuate over time or even resolve, not requiring any professional care. However, in some cases the condition becomes chronic and occurs together with other symptoms or conditions like headaches, neck and back pain, sleep problems or fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint or muscles
  • Aching pain in face and in and around the ear
  • Difficulty or pain with chewing
  • Headaches in the temple or frontal area
  • Locking of the joint or difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Painful clicking
  • Neck and/or throat pain
  • Ringing in the ears or ear fullness

How is TMD Diagnosed?

TMD can be difficult to diagnose, but if symptoms are persistent, a doctor or dentist can take a detailed history and examine the head, neck, face and jaw to rule out other conditions.

While TMD’s can be caused by an injury like a car accident, fall or blow to the face, symptoms frequently occur without an obvious reason. Some research suggests contributing factors like clenching teeth, tensing muscles, personal pain perception or posture-related neck pain. Research does not support that TMD are caused by a bad bite. 

TMD Treatment

Research supports conservative treatment for TMD’s. Self-care measures like eating softer foods, applying heat or cold and reducing clenching, biting nails or chewing gum, can help.  Physical therapy is also often recommended, as a therapist can identify contributing factors, instruct in self-care, help reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair to maintain, improve or restore function.

Penn Therapy & Fitness’ Approach to TMD Treatment

At Penn Therapy & Fitness, comprehensive care is provided by licensed physical therapists who have clinical experience and education in treating TMD patients. A detailed examination is followed by individualized treatment plans based on current research and best clinical practices that may include:

  • Manual therapy to the soft tissue of the neck and muscles of the TMJ; joint mobilization to the neck and TMJ
  • Posture correction exercise to promote flexibility and motion of the jaw, neck and midback
  • Exercises to stabilize the jaw and neck
  • Self-management instruction and education to control symptoms

TMD Treatment Locations

The TMD team at Penn Therapy & Fitness provides services on an outpatient basis at the following sites: 

Request an Appointment

For more information or to request an appointment, please call 877-969-7342 or fill out the form below.  

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