TMJ Treatment

TMJ palpation intraoral

Treatment of your TMJ Disorder involves a multifactorial approach. We work with your dentist or surgeon, as applicable. Our goal is to achieve pain relief as soon as possible, and then to restore normal motion, relaxation, and posture to prevent recurrence of your symptoms. Saunders physical therapists specialize in TMJ disorder treatment – choosing Saunders means you will be treated by an experienced professional.

The Saunders TMJ Treatment Philosophy

Musculoskeletal Evaluation: We look at your posture and its potential contribution to TMJ dysfunction. We often discover muscle imbalances of the jaw and neck. We perform a biomechanical evaluation of the temporomandibular joint, cervical spine and craniofacial region. We inquire about habits that can contribute to symptoms, including jaw clenching or grinding the teeth.

Treatment:  Treatment may include manual therapy such as joint mobilization, craniosacral therapy, and myofascial release techniques. Neuromuscular re-education also plays a large role to improve muscle imbalances and decrease strain on the TMJ and cervical spine.

We may use therapeutic modalities such as iontophoresis or ultrasound. Instruction in diet and habit modification is important to decrease irritation to the tissues. Finally, we help you independently manage symptoms through a home exercise program.

TMJ palpation intraoral

It is common for people with TMJ disorders to also have neck problems. Spinal dysfunction affects the mechanics of the TMJ and correction of posture and spinal joint and muscle imbalances is often key to TMJ pain or headache relief. At Saunders Therapy Centers, we can evaluate your head, neck, and jaw to determine the root cause of your symptoms, and develop a treatment plan to get you feeling better in no time


Categories TMJ

TMJ Symptoms

physical therapist explaining TMJ anatomy

How do you tell if your facial, head, or neck pain is related to your temporomandibular (TMJ) joint? The TMJ is the hinge joint that opens and closes your jaw. The joint can be palpated just in front of the ear, or from inside the ear. The muscles that operate this joint to open and close the jaw can be palpated along the temple, jawbone, and from inside the mouth. Sometimes, you can feel pain directly in the area around the joint, but there are other symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Neck pain
  • Aching facial pain
  • Headache
  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • Aching pain in or around the ear
  • Difficulty with or pain with chewing
  • Jaw “locking” or difficulty opening or closing

It is common for people with TMJ disorders to also have neck problems. Neck posture definitely affects the mechanics of the TMJ and correction of posture and treatment of neck dysfunction is often key to TMJ pain or headache relief. At Saunders Therapy Centers, we can evaluate your head, neck, and jaw to determine the root cause of your symptoms, and develop a treatment plan to get you feeling better in no time.


Categories TMJ

TMJ Headache

Neck Pain Treatment Technique

TMJ headaches can be disabling. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where your headache is coming from – a good physical therapist can help! The temporomandibular joint has several muscular attachments, and a seemingly simple thing like forward head posture can place abnormal stress on those muscles. Pain receptors from the muscles are activated, triggering a headache.

Another source of TMJ headaches is the joint itself. A swollen, inflamed joint causes muscles to become tight and inflamed, causing spasm. Resulting headache can be felt around the skull, face and even neck areas. Saunders physical therapists are skilled at evaluating and treating most TMJ disorders. There is often both a muscular and a joint component, and the neck and upper back are often involved. At Saunders, our approach entails:

Musculoskeletal Evaluation: A thorough evaluation will be performed on your initial visit. We can determine which tissues are  involved by palpating the joint and muscles externally around the head and neck, and inside your mouth.

Manual Therapy: Our therapists all have advanced training in manual therapy which is a hands-on approach that addresses restrictions and provides gentle stimulation to relieve pain.

Exercise: Depending on whether your symptoms are caused by posture, neck or jaw tightness, or instability, a custom exercise program will be prescribed.

Postural Education and Positions of Relief: Our physical therapists will teach you body awareness and you will learn mechanics and postures that decrease load and stress on the spine and jaw. Something as simple as the resting position of your tongue can make a big difference!

Neck Pain Treatment Technique



Categories TMJ

Dizziness Caused by Migraine or Neck Pain

Migraine Causing Dizziness

There are many different causes of dizziness including conditions of the inner ear, medication side effects, changes in blood pressure, or prolonged bed rest. Did you know that migraine headaches and painful neck conditions can also cause dizziness?

When migraine is accompanied by vertigo, neck pain may also be present. The neck symptoms can vary, but often include:

  • Reduced range of motion
  • Pain on one side of the neck, radiating to the temple, forehead, or eye
  • Pain on one side of your cheek or face
  • Pain at one or both sides of the base of your skull
  • Sometimes, pain can radiate to one shoulder

Treating the neck symptoms often relieves the dizziness and lessens the severity of migraine symptoms. Saunders Therapy Centers’ physical therapists are experts at evaluating and treating musculoskeletal conditions of the neck, and can assess whether your dizziness is originating from migraine or neck symptoms.

Migraine Causing Dizziness

What Does A Physical Therapist Do for Dizziness Related to Migraine or Neck Pain?

Vertigo disorders are multi-factorial in nature and require a thorough exam to identify contributing factors. Our approach:

  • Musculoskeletal Evaluation: Your evaluation will include an assessment of your posture, muscle flexibility, muscle strength and gait analysis.
  • Dizziness/Balance Evaluation: Your evaluation will also include balance testing, as well as positional testing designed to establish the source(s) of dizziness. Sometimes, we may do simple tests to check your eye movements as they related to your symptoms.
  • Education: We spend time discussing your diagnosis and encourage self-management strategies as part of our comprehensive treatment approach.
  • Treatment: Our aim is to get you feeling better from the first visit. Depending on the results from your exam, you may respond well to manual therapy, or hands-on techniques designed to improve the symmetry and tone in the muscles of the head and neck. Simple home exercises are often an important part of your treatment plan.


Falls Prevention and Balance Training

Helping an older person walk

Dizziness, unsteadiness, and feeling a loss of balance is very unpleasant and frustrating. Individuals over the age of 65 are statistically at much higher risk of falls. Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and 1 out of 5 falls in the elderly cause a fracture or head injury. (Statistics from the CDC’s Facts About Falling)



We Love to Help Prevent Falls!

  • We will perform a detailed evaluation to objectively assess your fall risk
  • You will learn specific exercises to strengthen your legs and the muscles that support balance
  • You will have an increased awareness of risky situations
  • We will problem-solve situations in your home to decrease your risk of falls


Home Safety Tips


BPPV – Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

BPPV dizziness

BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, is the most common source of vertigo. Vertigo is the false sensation that you are falling, or the room is spinning. The main symptom of BPPV is that your vertigo is triggered by head movements (suddenly looking up, down, or to the right or left.) Rarely serious, it is significantly disabling and can cause a risk of falling. Fortunately, it can be helped by physical therapy.

Tiny organs and fluid in your inner ear are responsible for balance. BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals called otoconia or “canaliths” come loose from their normal location in the inner ear.  When the ear crystals become detached, they can flow freely in the fluid-filled spaces of the inner ear, including the semi-circular canal – the organ that senses rotation of the head. These floating crystals create havoc, by falsely telling your inner ear that your position in space is changing. This is what causes the spinning sensation with head movement that people with BPPV describe.
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to determine whether your vertigo/dizziness is likely caused by BPPV. If so, positional techniques called “Canalith Repositioning” can be very effective in resolving the symptoms.


What Does A Physical Therapist Do for BPPV?

Saunders Therapy Centers physical therapists are all skilled at performing Canalith Repositioning techniques.

The canalith repositioning procedure consists of several simple maneuvers for positioning your head. Guided by your therapist, the head movements attempt to move the loose particles from the fluid-filled semicircular canals of your inner ear into a location where they don’t cause trouble and are more easily resorbed.

This procedure often works immediately, and usually works after one or two treatments. Since BPPV can recur, you will be taught how to perform the procedure on yourself so that you can do it at home if needed.


BPPV dizziness


Visceral Manipulation

Visceral Manipulation Technique

Visceral manipulation is a gentle, hands-on manual therapy used to help your internal organs (viscera) glide smoothly within your body. The techniques focus on gentle mobilization of internal organs and their fascial connections to promote synchronized movement between the organs and structures. Our visceral physical therapists have received advanced training through the Barral Institute.

Viscera are the soft internal organs of the body (such as the liver and bladder). These organs have a natural rhythm and motion and are intended to move in harmony with each other. When organs are out of synchronicity with other organs and tissues, it not only affects the optimal performance of the organ itself, but it also affects the surrounding tissue that is connected to the organ through the fascial system. This can lead to pain and dysfunction in areas far from where the organ lies.

Visceral Manipulation is used to locate and solve problems throughout the body. It encourages your own natural mechanisms to improve the functioning of your organs, dissipate the negative effects of stress, enhance mobility of the musculoskeletal system through the connective tissue attachments, and influence general metabolism. Although several professions can practice Visceral Manipulation, receiving your care from a physical therapist ensures a comprehensive approach.

What To Expect

All patients receive a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation that includes assessment of your posture, muscle imbalances, biomechanics, and joint mobility to identify areas contributing to your symptoms.

Your physical therapist will use soft manual forces to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. These gentle manipulations can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.

With Visceral Manipulation, your treatment is very gentle. It is often combined with other forms of therapy, like Myofascial Release, Craniosacral Therapy, joint mobilization, and appropriate exercise.


Visceral Manipulation technique