Treating TMJ Dysfunction Using Fascial Counterstrain
By Kevin Cronin, PT, ATC, JSCC, Owner of ARC Physical Therapy
What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located anterior to the ear and is defined as the connection of the temporal bone (the bone that forms the side of the skull) and the mandible (the lower jaw bone). There is a small cartilaginous disc that separates these two bones so that they slide smoothly while talking, eating and swallowing. When there is poor alignment or mechanics due to injury, weakness, arthritis, chronic grinding or chewing, pain results due to a displacement of the disc as it compresses on the sensory nerves. Pain can develop as ear, jaw, neck, head or shoulder pain and/or tinnitus.
ARC’s TMJ Dysfunction Treatment Program consists of the following elements: Learning appropriate postural alignment and avoiding possible contributory factors, manual therapy techniques (Fascial Counterstrain and joint mobilization), and neuromuscular education/exercises.
Fascial Counterstrain, originally derived from “Strain/Counterstrain,” was developed recently by a physical therapist named Brian Tuckey. In observing a skilled Fascial Counterstrain practitioner, patients will witness how gentle and non-traumatic this technique is for treating the painful patient. A clinician is quickly able to assess the entire body for areas of pain and dysfunction and identify the specific treatment needed to correct the dysfunction and alleviate the pain. Nearly every painful condition can benefit from this gentle technique.
When treating patients with conditions such as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, practitioners find each patient’s set of specific tender points in and around the TMJ, as well as in the upper cervical spine. These tender points are used to diagnose which structures are causing pain, muscle spasm, inflammation, and overall dysfunction of the joint and surrounding tissues.
The Difference in Treatment at ARC
Treating patients with TMJ Dysfunction using Fascial Counterstrain is a unique process. Physical therapists will treat the fascial tissues surrounding the arteries, nerves, veins and organs that are associated with the painful condition. They are then able to get to the root of the cause of the pain and “reset” the tissue that is the cause of the problem. Another benefit of Fascial Counterstrain is that it is an indirect treatment technique, which is more comfortable for the patient because it does not try to “force” the tissue to move, but rather takes the affected tissue “where it wants to go,” resulting in a relaxation of the muscles, and decreased inflammation and pain.
What Can I Expect After Treatment?
Patients suffering from TMJ Dysfunction that are treated by a Fascial Counterstrain practitioner can expect a decreased amount of pain, decreased muscular tension of the head, neck and jaw, improved tolerance for jaw movement, and in turn, a higher quality of life.
How Long Will the Relief Last?
It varies per patient. The release of fascial dysfunction tender points takes approximately 30 seconds per tender point. Some points may not come back after the first treatment, but some reappear, and may require a number of treatment session to eliminate them. Usually, as long as there is no underlying pathology, like a fracture, large bulging disc, or severe degenerative arthritis, the patient improves steadily, and is able to more comfortably perform specific exercises to help speed up recovery.
ARC Physical Therapy has locations in Chicago, Elmhurst, Westmont, Orland Park and Hinsdale. For more information regarding the treatment of TMJ Dysfunction using Fascial Counterstrain, please feel free to email us at info@ARC-PT.com or to call us at (630) 832-6919.
Advanced Rehabilitation Clinics, Inc. was founded in 1996, in Elmhurst, IL., by Kevin M. Cronin, PT, ATC, JSCC, as a provider of outpatient orthopedic physical therapy. By consistently providing quality care and exceptional service, ARC Physical Therapy has been able to grow and expand. Today, we are grateful for the opportunity to help people throughout the Chicago area recover from a wide variety of painful conditions.
ARC Physical Therapy offers FREE CONSULTATIONS that include a demonstration of our unique treatment technique called Fascial Counterstrain (see www.jiscs.com).
Call us to schedule yours today! (630) 832-6919