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Jaw pain TMD TMJ

Does Your Face Hurt?

by Mick Murphy, PT, DPT, OCS, CMTPTLeave a Comment

Do you experience face or jaw pain, tightness, or restricted mouth opening? How about noises such as popping or clicking when opening or closing your mouth? Maybe you experience ear pain, dizziness, or headaches? These may be symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Temporomandibular disorders are a group of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or chewing muscles. These disorders are more common than you may think, affecting 5-12% of the population. In fact, TMD is second only to low back pain when it comes to musculoskeletal conditions resulting in pain and disability. Despite the number of people with TMD, only 50-66% seek treatment.

So how do you know if TMD is causing your symptoms and you may be one of those that should seek treatment? Lucky for you, Gonzalez et al. developed a quick and easy screening tool to help answer this question2. Answer the three questions below to determine if your symptoms are due to TMD.

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Now add up your score: a=0, b=1, c=2. If your score is 3 or more, then it is highly likely your symptoms are related to TMD. Now what? Well, the good news is that conservative treatments are very effective at treating TMD and should be the first line intervention. A physical therapist who specializes in TMD can assess your condition and recommend the best treatment plan for you. This may include various physical therapy interventions, referral to a dentist for a splint, or referral to your doctor for appropriate medications.

Request your free assessment at an Athletico near you and start feeling better today!

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*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. “Facial Pain.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
2. Gonzalez, Yoly M., et al. “Development of a Brief and Effective Temporomandibular Disorder Pain Screening Questionnaire.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 142, no. 10, Oct. 2011, pp. 1183–1191.,

Copyright Gonzalez YM. Available at Version 11Oct2013. No permission required to reproduce, translate, display, or distribute.

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Mick Murphy is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist with over 10 years of experience treating orthopaedic, chronic pain, and vestibular conditions. He specializes specifically in craniofacial pain, including headaches and temporomandibular dysfunction. He is certified in dry needling, and Graston trained as well. Mick uses a combination of manual therapy, exercises, and patient education to help his patients decrease their pain, improve their function, and get back to a fulfilling life. He truly believes in using physical therapy to empower his patients to take control of their conditions and give them the tools they need to take control of their health. If you're suffering from pain or movement impairment that keeps you from living your best life, Mick can help you get back on track!

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