By Kyle D. McIntyre, PT, DPT, CFMT

Do you suffer from jaw pain? Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or jaw pain, is a common issue affecting an estimated 5 to 12% of the general population.

Holistic functional manual therapy (FMT) can identify the cause(s) and alleviate your pain, without primary doctor or dental visits and expensive treatments such as braces.

Why does my jaw hurt?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ), are synovial joints, like your knees or shoulders. The joint capsule has a disc, which splits the joint into two separate cavities. There are also muscles and ligaments supporting the joints in your jaw.

So, jaw pain can result from issues with the disc, muscles and/or ligaments – as well as teeth alignment and other issues.

When people have pain, they commonly seek help from a primary care physician. In the case of TMD, many go to a dentist of orthodontist. (Dental treatment of jaw pain includes the use of retainers, braces, injections, surgery, and/or medications.)

However, very few people realize the benefits of natural, mechanical treatment of their jaw.

FMT: a holistic approach for jaw pain

Using the functional manual therapy (FMT) approach, we assess a client’s cranial, facial and cervical structures, in addition to the TMJs.

We commonly find many other dysfunctions that can drive jaw pain. FMT offers natural solutions to alleviate pain and correct the source of the problem. For example:

Bite/teeth alignment – With FMT, we can mobilize your palate (roof of your mouth) and teeth to correct over- or under-bite issues, the same way that braces or a retainer corrects a bite. The advantages of FMT: we can be much more focused and specific for short, direct treatment. By assisting in correcting teeth alignment, we can help you avoid expensive braces.

Neuromuscular and motor control – In addition to mechanical assessment and treatment, in the FMT approach we assess neuromuscular and motor control. In the case of TMD, good head and neck control is needed along with proper control of the TMJs directly.

In the medical field, this an often overlooked issue that can be causing pain and dysfunction. If your quadriceps muscle was weak, or wasn’t firing properly, how would you expect to have a healthy knee? The same concept can be applied to your TMJs.

For jaw pain – and any other body aches or pains – FMT is a complete and natural solution.

We’re able to identify the often complex, multiple contributing-factors causing a client’s pain, which is the key to resolving pain issues: finding the main cause and treating it holistically, without medication, costly appliances (e.g., braces) or surgery.

Kyle is a Physical Therapist with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy; he is also a Certified Functional Manual Therapist.