What is the Hands On philosophy for treating TMJ?

Our “hands on” approach focuses on structural and fascial misalignments and the resulting compensations within the body. Our therapist’s advanced manual and didactic skills are well suited in evaluating and treating the many components involved in creating TMJ symptoms. From your initial evaluation until your discharge, our therapists constantly monitor the progress of your changing postural and movement patterns. We are trained to help facilitate positive change in postural and structural imbalances, core stability, body mechanics, harmful oral habits and home stretch and exercise routines. A skilled assessment of your particular patterns is essential to create an individualized protocol to remediate your tmj dysfunction.

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is primarily a jaw dysfunction that can give rise to numerous symptoms.

Conservative estimates figure 10 million americans have TMJ, 75% of which are women between the ages of 20-50 (similar statistics are seen for the incidence of fibromyalgia). Dr. Harold Gelb, a leading TMJ specialist, postulates TMJ is a primary initiating factor in 80% of all chronic pain disorders and may be the underlying cause of many chronic pain conditions. A myofascial release principle in line with the essence of Dr. Gelb’s pain theory is “find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause”, as the fascial web causes many pain patterns to be referred from the primary site.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

Located in front of the ear canal on either side of the head, the joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. The joint allows for opening, closing and side to side movements involved in chewing, speaking and yawning. The primary muscles controlling these movements and subsequent muscular dysfunctions are the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid muscles.

What causes TMJ disorders?

Known causes or contributing factors of TMJ include direct injury to the jaw, face or head from a heavyblow or whiplash. Other direct intrinsic factors include clenching or grinding the teeth, arthritis,dislocation of disc, and psycho-emotional stress. Indirect or extrinsic factors can include trauma to anywhere else in the body, poor pelvic alignment, muscle/ postural imbalances,poor oral habits and/or body mechanics at home and work. Since one TMJ cannot move independently of the other, it is considered a “bilateral joint”. Being a bilateral joint makes it more prone to and directly affected by fascial misalignments. For example, well over half of all TMJ patients seen at Hands On have some form of pelvic misalignment as well.

What are the common symptoms of TMJ?

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, neck, shoulders, jaw joint
  • Pain, clicking and/or popping when opening or closing the jaw
  • A tired feeling in the face
  • Jaw locking /difficulty opening or closing mouth
  • Headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, ear pain, teeth pain
  • Muscle spasms, extremity numbness, backaches
  • Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, frustration, anger, and depression

What are the treatment options for TMJ?

Treatment for TMJ ranges from various conservative care protocols to surgery. Given the vast array of symptoms and etiologies, treatment of TMJ is a case by case protocol and should take into account each individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practices.