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Specialized Physical Therapy for Neck and Shoulder Pain due to TMJ Issues

August 3, 2016

If you are suffering with TMJ problems, consider that the muscles of the neck and shoulders are connected to the jaw. TMJ disorders can play a role in neck and shoulder pain or stiffness. At Cherry Creek Wellness, we understand also that if you have chronic stiffness or misalignment in your neck or shoulders, it can directly affect the function of your jaw joints. Denver physical therapy for TMJ related issues is one of our specialties.

Where is the TMJ?
Everyone has two TMJs (Temporo Mandibular Joints), one on the right and one on the left. Slide your fingers along the bottom edge of your cheekbone toward your ear, then stop just before the ear. Open and close your mouth to feel it move. The TMJ is that joint formed between the temporal bone of the skull and the mandible, or jawbone. Like other joints in the body, the TM joint has muscles, tendons, ligaments, a joint space where the bones meet, and a joint capsule.

Proper TMJ movement is dependent on the position of your teeth, cranium, neck, mid-spine, and shoulder girdle. If you have suffered a loss of strength and motion in the spine and shoulders, the TMJ often compensates for the poor alignment.
Even though most people go to their dentist or orthodontist to treat TMJ with dental work or a dental appliance, if you have pain, stiffness, or misalignment in your neck and shoulders, you may want to consider getting some physical therapy to help treat the problem. Specialized physical therapy in Denver is available to treat TMJ and reduce the pain and discomfort associated with it.

If your complaint has been head and/or neck pain, you may have received no treatment for your TMJ problem, because the effects of jaw alignment are not often associated with the neck and shoulder muscles. A doctor may have prescribed medicine for your headaches; a dentist may have given you an appliance to prevent teeth grinding. We can perform a comprehensive evaluation of your TMJ, neck, thoracic spine, and shoulder girdle to determine the structures causing your symptoms.

TMJ disorder usually causes some or all of the following symptoms:
  • Jaw and facial pain/tension
  • Ear pain
  • Problems with "sitting activities," such as working at the computer, or reading
  • Jaw cracking/popping
  • Difficulty turning your head
  • Neck tension
  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Problems chewing, swallowing, opening your mouth, or yawning
When you come in for your physical therapy evaluation, you can expect your jaw mobility to be evaluated first, then we can release the muscle tension in the head and neck region. Once we get your neck and jaw joints moving appropriately again, strengthening and stabilizing exercises are prescribed to maintain the new, correct, position of the TMJ.
Here at Cherry Creek Wellness, we recommend that if you have TMJ-related pain, noise in the joint, or difficulty with jaw movement and have not achieved relief with other treatments, you may want to consider contacting us to set up an evaluation. Contact us today at 303-333-3493 for scheduling.