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Physical Therapy for TMJ and TMD

A physical therapist can develop a program for you that includes learning and practicing techniques for regaining normal jaw movement.

The focus of physical therapy for temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) is relaxation, stretching and releasing tight muscles and scar tissue. Physical therapy is an especially important part of recovery from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) joint surgery, as it helps minimize scar tissue formation and muscle tightness.

Our physical therapists will design a program tailored to your symptoms, age and overall health. The common physical therapy techniques used to treat TMD include:

  • Exercises to strengthen jaw muscles and improve range of motion
  • Heat and ice therapy for pain relief and inflammation
  • Massage to help with muscle tension
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a mild electrical current applied to the skin over the TMJ to interfere with pain signals, relax muscles and improve circulation
  • Ultrasound therapy, the use of high-frequency sound waves to reduce pain and swelling

While several of these therapies may seem out of the ordinary at first glance, they have been proven to be effective parts of a holistic treatment approach for TMD. These same physical therapy techniques may be used during your recovery if surgery is eventually required to help with your TMD.

Recognizing TMJ and TMD

If your headache is caused by a problem with the TMJ, you’ll likely have other classic symptoms of TMD as well. These symptoms may include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw
  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Facial pain and earaches
  • Reduced range of motion when opening or closing the mouth
  • Tender jaws
  • Fibromyalgia

Over 80 million Americans suffer from some form of TMJ disorder. Recognizing the symptoms and getting the appropriate treatment is the first step in finding lasting relief. 

If you’re suffering from frequent headaches, especially if you have other symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor about TMJ and TMD. Treating the problem – and not just the symptoms – can help you find long-term relief.