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Understanding TMD: How Physical Therapy Can Make a Difference

Hello there! Dr. B here, Osteopractic Physical Therapist and with over 13 years of expertise in the field. I’ve treated numerous cases of TMD – Temporomandibular Disorder over the years. Here’s a deep dive into what TMD is, and why there’s hope for those suffering from it.

TMD in Brief:

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the associated nerves. Everybody has two Temporomandibular Joints – these are the joints on each side of your head – just in front of your ears. These joints allow you to open and close your mouth. TMD (the D stands for “Dysfunction”) refers to any condition which causes pain or difficulty using your TMJ (your

Symptoms common with TMD may be pain in the jaw or face muscles, clicking, popping, catching at the TMJ. Those with TMD may experience difficulty opening your mouth to eat or talk or pain with chewing food. These symptoms may also lead to jaw pain/fatigue, neck pain, headache, and locking jaw, making you unable to open or close your mouth.

If you experience chronic jaw or facial pain, you may be suffering from TMD. The good news is, if you’re in the Hampstead, NC, Alpha Osteopractic can help.

You might be wondering: How can physiotherapy assist in managing TMD symptoms? The approach is multi-pronged:

1st, we will go through a comprehensive evaluation and determine what specifically is leading to your symptoms. Then we will design an individualized plan to address the contributing factors and resolve your symptoms. Some things that we commonly employ during treatment sessions for TMD:

Manual Therapy and Joint Mobilization/Manipulation: These techniques aim to enhance movement, alleviate pain in tissues and joints, and possibly aid in relocating a displaced articular disc in the jaw joint. It is very common for patients with TMD to have neck pain or restricted motion in the cervical spine.

Dry Needling: Dry needling is a trusted technique used by physical therapists to treat various orthopedic and neuromusculoskeletal conditions, including TMJ. This method involves inserting thin filament needles into specific points, stimulating the body’s natural healing processes and promoting pain relief. By tapping into the body’s ability to release its own natural opioids and increase micro-circulation, dry needling offers both immediate pain alleviation and long-term healing benefits. For more information on how dry needling works, check out our blog post here.

Dry needling, in conjunction with upper cervical spinal manipulation, has been explored for its efficacy in treating temporomandibular disorder (TMD). A notable multi-center randomized clinical trial led by James Dunning, PhD, DPT, FAAOMPT, and a team of esteemed colleagues, investigated the potential benefits of this combined approach. Their findings offer insights into how these two treatments can work synergistically to provide relief for TMD patients, further emphasizing the need for comprehensive approaches in managing musculoskeletal conditions.

Education: A fundamental aspect of recovery involves understanding your body and your symptoms. We educate you to know how to take control over your pain and optimize your recovery in your day-to-day life.

Soft Tissue Mobilization/IASTM (Scrapping)/Cupping: these techniques can be used to treat the soft tissues around the jaw and spine to optimize mobility and alleviate pain.

Targeted Exercises: Personalized exercises aim to reinstate normal, pain-free jaw motion, making daily activities like eating and talking much more comfortable.

At Alpha Osteopractic, you will receive the treatment interventions that are best for you! This is not the same for everyone, so after your evaluation your therapist will walk you through their findings and lay out the best plan to eliminate your pain and optimize your recovery.

Did you know?

The TMJ is one of the most frequently used joints in the body, moving between 2,000-3,000 times a day. Think about how many times you must chew just to swallow ONE bite of food!

Don’t let TMD disrupt your life. Reach out to Alpha Osteopractic today and take the first step towards relief. You can book a free 15-minute consultation here. Alpha Osteopractic is here to help and guide you every step of the way. We can help and we WANT to help you!

Dr. Brittany A. Forbes, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT
We help athletes and active adults eliminate pain, optimize wellness, and achieve new heights without medications, injections or surgery.
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