At MedStar NRH, the therapeutic team takes a “top to bottom” approach to TMJ treatment. Therapists look beyond the muscles in the face and jaw to determine the causes of TMJ and its troubling symptoms. Then they develop a plan of therapy to eliminate the condition—and to provide patients with tools to prevent its recurrence.
TMJ disorders affect millions of Americans. This joint connects the jawbones to the bottom of the skull and controls movement of the mouth involved in speaking, yawning, eating, and chewing. When the joint has been damaged, the result can be everything from headaches, dizziness, earaches and back pain— to radiating pain in the arms.
Thorough Patient Evaluation
Because TMJ disorder can result from multiple conditions—arthritis, faulty dental work, stress, poor head posture or trauma—therapists conduct a complete patient assessment before developing a treatment plan. The MedStar NRH team obtains patients’ medical history, evaluates range of motion in the jaw and neck, and assesses their posture.
Then therapists will design a treatment plan to relieve pain, decrease inflammation that can occur with TMJ, and restore normal joint movement. The MedStar NRH Network team also works closely with dentists, orthodontists, physician specialists and psychologists in an interdisciplinary approach to treatment to help ensure long-term success.
Variety of Therapeutic Methods
The therapeutic plan will include a variety of methods to relax tightened facial muscles, realign the jaw, as well as the neck, back, legs and feet in order to eliminate the muscle pain that can result from chronic TMJ. Among the innovative therapies used in TMJ disorder treatment are:
- Manual therapy, incorporating a variety of techniques
- Jaw relaxation, stretching and control exercises, such as Rocabado’s 6 x 6 program
- Referrals for dental splints and mouth guards to realign the jaw and prevent teeth grinding/clinching
- Electromyographic biofeedback for muscle relaxation and neuromuscular retraining
- Exercises to increase muscle strength and range of motion in the neck, shoulders and back
- Emphasis is placed on postural re-education, ergonomics, stretching and strengthening programs and, when indicated, an evaluation and fitting for foot orthotics
- PENS (Patterned Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation) for muscle re-education
- Heat packs, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to increase blood flow and relax muscles