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Woman holding her jaw in pain

Physical Therapy for Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD)

Have you ever thought about PT treatment for jaw pain? Or for earache, ear ringing, or dizziness that may accompany pain in the jaw, inability to fully open the mouth, or cracking or popping when moving the jaw? The good news is that physical therapists are muscle and joint experts - and this includes the muscles surrounding the jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) is a condition that affects the TMJ, which connects the jawbone to the skull. TMD is often wrongly referred to as "TMJ," which actually represents the name of the temporomandibular joint. TMD is a very common condition. It affects people of all ages and genders. Women of childbearing age are affected by this condition three times more than men.1 

TMD can be the result of trauma, chronic teeth clenching or grinding, neck and face tension from stress, and poor posture.1 TMD can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and headaches. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for TMD. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help reduce pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles around the TMJ. 

How Physical Therapy Can Help TMD

Reducing Pain

Physical therapists can use a variety of techniques to reduce pain, including massage, heat therapy, electrical stimulation, and dry needling. 

Improving Range of Motion

Physical therapists can help improve range of motion in the jaw by teaching patients exercises to stretch and relax the muscles around the TMJ. 

Strengthening the Muscles Around the TMJ

Physical therapists can help strengthen the muscles around the TMJ by teaching patients exercises to do at home. 

Improve Posture and Neck Alignment

TMJ function is strongly impacted by overall posture - improper poster puts strain on the muscles of the jaw. Physical therapists are postural correction experts.


Physical therapists can help provide education for patients with TMD in order to protect the joints of the jaw.  

How Long Does Physical Therapy for TMD Take?

The length of time it takes to complete physical therapy for TMD varies depending on the severity of the condition. Most patients see improvement within a few weeks of starting treatment. However, some patients may need to continue physical therapy for several months. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMD, talk to your doctor or dentist about seeing a PT. Physical therapy for TMD is covered by most medical insurances. Physical therapy can help you get back to living a pain-free life.



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