TMJ disorders are so much more than just jaw pain. They can involve difficulty eating and speaking, persistent earaches, and even migraines. If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, visit Hands On Physical Therapy in Toms River, NJ. We have a TMJ specialist prepared to treat your symptoms.
Hands On Physical Therapy has served the Toms River and Brick, NJ, area since 2003, and we are dedicated to providing patients with effective physical therapy that will relieve pain and improve quality of life. Trust us with your health when you need physical therapy.
Learn About TMJ
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joints that connect your jawbone to your skull, just next to your ears. These joints can see a lot of wear and tear over the years, and when they break down or move out of place, you can develop a temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.
Some symptoms of a TMD include:
- Aching pain around the jaw, ears, and cheeks
- Difficulty chewing or opening your mouth
- Jaw stiffness and/or popping
- Headaches and migraines
- Locked jaw
The cause of these symptoms isn’t always the same, but we know that these symptoms can affect your daily life, how you eat and sleep and speak. When you need relief from these symptoms, seek out a TMJ specialist for Toms River and Brick, NJ, for quality care and results.
Meet Our Specialist
Karen J. Schechter, PT / TMJ Specialist – Graduated from Daemon College in 1989 majoring in physical therapy with a minor in Biology and Psychology. Karen has over 26 years experience as a physical therapist, instructor and clinical coordinator in multiple clinical settings of outpatient orthopedics, home care, school based therapy, and pediatrics. Karen has obtained a specialization from UMDNJ for Orofacial and TMJ Disorders and has experience in rehabilitation of Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction. She has a focus of manual soft tissue techniques and myofascial release. Karen is a proud memeber of the American Physical Therapy Association(APTA), Orthopedic Section of the APTA and Pediatric Section of the APTA.
What is TMJ?
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. A TMJ disorder consists of several disorders that affect the complex jaw joint and the muscles that control chewing and speaking. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. It can consist of pain that is mild in nature to serious chronic pain. There can be clicking and popping in the jaw. Severe cases can include a locking of the jaw. There can be headaches and pain that radiates onto the face, ears, face, neck and shoulders.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of TMJ may include tenderness of the jaw and facial muscles, clicking and popping when opening or closing the mouth, difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing, facial or jaw pain, ringing in the ears, locking of the jaw, frequent headaches, and pain in or around the ear.
What are the causes of TMJ?
Causes of TMJ include head trauma, head and neck injuries, arthritis, misaligned and an unstable bite, jaw muscles working improperly resulting in muscle spasms, mental and physical stress, headaches, and the clenching and grinding teeth at night. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joints. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle and ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
What is the treatment for TMJ?
There are several treatment options if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Physical therapy treatment by a certified specialist is of utmost importance and Hands On Physical Therapy has that specialist. Many physical therapists claim that they are specialists but have only learned the minimal information during their training in medical school. There are a few therapists who have undergone an extensive training that involves learning in a hands on atmosphere with dentists, endodontists, primary physicians and even psychologists. One such program is an extensive program offered through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Our therapist, Karen Schechter, is one such therapist who is certified in this specialization. There are only 2 therapists specialized in all of Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ. The initial goal is to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. Our treatment approach consists of combining modalities, soft tissue techniques, myofascial release, intraoral techniques of the craniofacial and craniomandibular musculature, joint mobilizations, muscle stretching, relaxation and strengthening exercises, postural corrective exercises and education in posture, body mechanics and sleeping postures. Short term relief may be accomplished with switching to a soft food diet, avoiding chewing gum, and cutting food into smaller pieces to alleviate stress on the jaw. Many times, a splint that is custom made in order to separate the upper and lower teeth, is necessary if grinding or clenching is an issue. A dentist would be able to fabricate one for this issue. There is continuous communication between Karen and the dentist and/or physician that has diagnosed the issue, assisting in the patient having a comprehensive treatment.
Contact Us Today
Hands On Physical Therapy seeks to relieve you of your pain and discomfort. We use proven and trustworthy therapy techniques to promote your body’s natural healing ability and speed the process along. Our TMJ specialist has years of experience, which means you can trust us to provide the best quality treatments.