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Manual Physical Therapy for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

 

Typical symptoms of TMJ disorders comprise a triad of orofacial pain, joint clicking and restricted jaw function.

 

TMJ disorders are generally classified as extracapsular or intracapsular lesions.

 

TMJ function is dependent not only on optimal occlusion but also in relation to the position of the cervical spine most commonly, the Forward Head Posture (FHP) with degeneration or segmental hypomobilities in the upper cervical spine (extended OA-C1-C2), mid-cervical spine (extended C3-5) and lower cervical (C6-7) to the thoracic spines (flexed).

 

Weakness of the pre-vertebral flexors and the thoracic extensors are common (postural muscles).

 

Pain generated in the TMJ causes reflex muscle guarding and spasm to the masticators (potentially causing joint clicking via the disk attachment to the lateral pterygoid muscle) as well as the rest of the supportive musculature of the cervical spine.

 

The trigeminal nucleus shares its grey matter down to C3 spinal cord (the Trigemino-cervical nucleus) thereby causing cervical symptoms from a TMJ disorder, vice versa, or both.

 

Clarity Physical Therapy and Wellness Center offers a comprehensive manual physical therapy evaluation to join the Dental profession in creating a team effort to managing patients with TMJ disorders. Management may include soft tissue mobilization or massage to the masticators and cervical-thoracic muscles in guarding or spasm, joint mobilization to the restricted TMJ as well as the cervical and thoracic spines as assessed, and dosed exercise progressions to restore proper functioning of the TMJ as it relates to the spine and upper quarter. 

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