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Who treats TMJ? A physical therapist is one answer you may not have expected

Physical Therapy for TMJ Disorder | Peak Performance

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition that involves pain and limited mobility around the jaw joints. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the bottom of the skull. TMJ disorder occurs when the joints, muscles, or ligaments around the jaw, head, and neck become inflamed or overworked.

TMJ disorder is a relatively common condition to experience, affecting anywhere between 5% and 12% of the population in the U.S. Of this percentage, women are the most likely to develop TMJ disorder. It also affects people between the ages of 20 and 40 in most cases.

If you think you may be dealing with TMJ disorder, you may be wondering who can treat it. Look through the treatments described in the sections underneath this one. You could find that physical therapists are who you prefer to treat your disorder. Consulting with a physical therapy specialist may be best for your TMJ disorder symptoms.

Who can treat the symptoms of TMJ disorder?

Several different types of medical professionals can treat the symptoms of TMJ disorder. You can consult any one of these people for help with your symptoms, but physical therapists are the people who may have the most to offer. Check out each type of health care provider who can help those with TMJ disorder:

  • Dentists.
  • Ear, nose and throat doctors.
  • Primary care doctors.
  • Physical therapists.

Which physical therapy treatments can be used to treat TMJ disorder?

Physical therapy can be used to treat TMJ disorder and ultimately reduce the severity of a person’s symptoms. TMJ disorder can make daily functions like chewing, speaking, and opening and closing your mouth uncomfortable. Not only can it affect your jaw, but it can also cause pain or discomfort in your neck, shoulders and head. For these reasons, getting treatment can be imperative. Physical therapy is one mode of treatment that can be used to relieve a variety of symptoms that TMJ disorder can present. An experienced physical therapist can identify the source of your TMJ discomfort and develop a unique treatment plan designed to relieve your pain. Interested in learning more about the types of PT treatments that can be used to treat TMJ disorder? You can find them here: 

  • Soft tissue mobilization — Soft tissue mobilization is a treatment method that involves manual manipulation of soft tissue, including the muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments. In many cases, TMJ disorder symptoms can be attributed to muscle tension. Soft tissue mobilization breaks up any area of tense muscle and relieves patients with tight neck, jaw and shoulder muscles. If the root of your TMJ disorder symptoms is found to be tense muscles, your physical therapist may use soft tissue mobilization to treat you.
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) Instrument-assisted soft -tissue mobilization functions to break up dense soft tissue regions but with the help of an instrument or tool. These instruments are used to massage and scrape the skin. In patients with TMJ disorder symptoms, IASTM reduces muscle tension, promotes blood flow to the jaw joints and improves mobility in the jaw.
  • Electrical stimulationElectrical stimulation is a type of therapy that can be used in PT sessions to stimulate and strengthen muscle areas. This type of treatment is unique because it can be used to target very specific regions of muscle, like the muscles in the jaw and around the jaw joints. Strengthening the muscle can reduce the strain that muscle tension can place on the jaw in the future.

What might the first TMJ disorder treatment session with a physical therapist look like?

Treatment for TMJ disorder often comes in not just one but several sessions spread out over time. Physical therapy treatment works best when applied gradually. It’s a gentler, noninvasive treatment option that causes significantly less pain and discomfort than harsh and invasive surgeries. Here’s what you can expect from your first TMJ disorder treatment session with a physical therapist:

  • Initial evaluation.
  • Learning what movements to avoid.
  • Identifying the best PT treatment modality.
  • Determining how long recovery may take.

Allow Peak Performance physical therapists to be the ones who treat your TMJ disorder 

If you’re in need of a physical therapist who can provide a high-quality level of care for your TMJ disorder, you need to look no further. Our team at Peak Performance Sports and Physical Therapy consists of a compassionate and experienced group of professionals. We’re dedicated to providing a consistent quality of care to each of our patients across central and eastern North Carolina.

Don’t let TMJ disorder take control of your life. Let our team ease your discomfort and pain caused by your TMJ disorder. Peak Performance is the physical therapy clinic that can effectively treat patients struggling to manage their TMJ disorder. Take the first step now, and reach out to us for assistance.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.