Core Physical Therapy
healing from the inside out



TMJ: Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ / TMD) is characterized by pain. The temporomandibular joint is located in front of each ear connecting the lower jaw bone (mandible) to the skull. In addition to pain to the joint itself, there is associated soft tissue inflammation and pain and guarding of the muscles around the face and head.

The reason for TMJ is not fully understood, although it can occur due to trauma of the neck or jaw such as from a motor vehicle accident. It can also result from malocclusion of the teeth. In addition autoimmune conditions and other inflammatory disease processes are associated with increased risk of TMJ dysfunction.

Symptoms can include:
An inability or unwillingness to open the mouth.
Clicking and popping of the jaw.
Locking of the jaw upon opening.
Malocclusion of the teeth or a bite that feels off.
Neck, shoulder or back pain.

The treatment of TMJ/TMD is multi-disciplinary in its approach for best outcome including dental care and physical therapy.

Physical therapy can include gentle cranial mobilization or gentle mobilization of the temporomandibular joint to reduce pain and tone of the muscles. In addition a complete musculoskeletal evaluation will be performed to identify potential sources of the TMJ pain. This can include the biomechanics of the upper cervical spine, thoracic spine, or lower extremity kinetic chain.

A physical therapist also trained in orthopedic manual therapy can work closely with your dentist to optimize your care after dental procedures. These visits can often be timed to follow your dental work minimizing muscle guarding and reflexive pain to the jaw from dental work.


Core Physical Therapy · 443 NE Knott Street · Portland, Oregon 97212

Kellie Barnes

Kellie Barnes, MOMT, MPT

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