Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Michelle LaBrecque


Temporomandibular Joint Disorders -- therapy; Case Reports


Background and Purpose: Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) affects 40 to 60% of the US population and is primarily prevalent in 35 to 45 year old females. It involves a multitude of anatomical structures including bilateral temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and numerous muscles affecting the TMJ. Examination and treatment of TMD generally requires a whole person approach due to the complexity of involved structures. The purpose of this case study was to educate physical therapists in TMD and pro vide intervention options.

Case Description: The patient was a 36-year-old female referred to physical therapy by her oral surgeon. She presented with bilateral jaw pain, intermittent headaches in the occipital region, crepitus and hypermobility in her TMJ and postural dysfunction.

Intervention: PT treatment included patient education on posture, iontophoresis for inflammation and pain reduction, manual therapy, strengthening and stretching of a variety of jaw, back and chest musculature as well as a home exercise program.

Outcomes: Response to the iontophoresis treatment was perceived well, which allowed the patient to learn and complete strengthening and stretching exercises without increased pain or inflammation. She was able to open her mouth within functional limits without pain or crepitus as well as no deviation, which was a significant improvement.

Discussion: Physical therapists should take a holistic approach and consider not only treatment for the TMJ, but also review posture and other potential impacts causing the patient's symptoms. The patient in this case study had great outcomes with the approach taken by physical therapy and was able to avoid surgery.