TMJ/Jaw Pain

TOPS Physical Therapy has physical therapists trained at focusing on the evaluation of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction. Our physical therapy team is board certified in orthopedics and dry needling, and will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the TMD, neck, thoracic spine and shoulder girdle to determine the structures causing TMJ symptoms.

***Our patients are receiving immediate relief with physical therapy***
A new treatment, Integrative Dry Needling, has been found clinically to be very effective in the treatment of TMD, especially in the cases of severe pain or where a TMJ becomes either locked opened or closed (see references below).

Integrative Dry Needling is a minimally invasive procedure by which fine gages (34-38 gauge) solid filament sterile needles are inserted into areas of chronic soft tissue dysfunction, trigger points, and other symptomatic tender points that are identified during a physical therapy examination.

Dry needling works on the premise that the phase of healing soft tissues become adhered to one another, scar formation limits mobility, and blood and lymphatic vessels become locked, resulting in inflammation, pain and the formation of trigger points and chronic soft tissue dysfunction. The interruption of normal function leads to atrophy, aggravated irritability, and sensitive. When a needle is inserted into the symptomatic area, a tiny lesion(s) is created, stimulating tissue relaxation through mechanical stimulation of the trigger point/symptomatic tissue.

The tiny lesions stimulate a local healing response, as well as activate neural pathways that control and decrease pain. There is a local release of molecular proteins that rebuild tissues and neurotransmitters, that block these transmission of pain signals, facilitate healing, and result in improved joint mechanics and reduction in discomfort.

TrP DN has been shown to relieve the following symptoms secondary to TMJD:

TMJ Anatomy
  • Jaw discomfort or soreness (often most prevalent in the morning or late afternoon)
  • Headaches
  • Pain radiating behind the eyes, in the face, shoulder, neck, and/or back
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears (not caused by and infection of the inner ear canal)
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Mouth motions are limited
  • Clenching or grinding of teeth
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity of the teeth without the presence of an oral health disease
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

Research supports TrP DN:
A double-blind RCT performed by Smith, et al. (2007), revealed that ND in the area of TMJ pain had a statistical level of significance on outcome measures over those who received a sham.

Another case series performed by Gonzalez-Iglesias, et al. (2015), has shown that patients who TMJD treated with a multimodal approach, including mobilizations and manipulations to the cervical and thoracic spine along with trigger point DN exhibited significant and clinic improvements in pain intensity and disability.

Fernandez-Carnero, et al. (2010)
Gonzalez-Perez, et al. (2012)
Shen, et al. (2009)

Treating TMD with physical therapy is an effective method to relieve pain and discomfort. When your patients come to TOPS Physical Therapy for their evaluation and treatment, they can expect their therapists to analyze their jaw mobility, and release muscle tension in the head and neck region.

Please call and contact us with any further questions regarding treatments.