A Unique Approach to TMJ Problems using Physical Therapy

I had the chance to present to the Spine Special Interest Group (SSIG) this past week about physical therapy and TMJ problems.  The SSIG is a group of physical therapists that specialize in the spine and are looking for ways to share ideas and improve their practice.  I was honored to be in their company.  I had the chance to speak about how physical therapy can help patients suffering from temporomandibular dysfunction, commonly referred to as TMD or TMJ (temporomandibular joint).

Physical Therapy can help with TMJ Problems

I like to use a full body approach and then zero in on the problem areas as needed.  Very often a patient can get relief once the cervical spine and thorax are in a good position and functioning properly.  Sometimes the patient still needs some direct work to the joint.  At times a patient may need both a knowledgeable dentist in addition to a physical therapist to attack the problem from all angles.

What’s cool is that I just returned from a dental course about this same topic, and I’ve seen caring people on both sides who are passionate about helping their patients.

The picture to the left shows an example of some of the goofy exercises that can help with a TMD problem.  I use this one to help with breathing and realigning the thorax.  It’s also just kind of funny to see a group of people blow up balloons all at once.