Monday, April 28, 2014

TMJ Awareness

    Have you ever experienced jaw pain or clicking?  How about the inability to close your mouth normally?  Neck pain and shoulder pain?  Headaches?  Many people suffer from all kinds of pain in the face, head, neck and shoulders without knowing what might be causing it.  Did you know researchers have found that over 75% of all the pain felt in the head, neck and face is muscle-related?   Such pain symptoms may have been mysterious in the past but it is now a known condition termed as TMJ or temporomandibular joint.  The cause of TMD is not clear, but dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.  Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck – such as from a heavy blow or whiplash – can cause TMD. Other possible causes include:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
  • Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
  • Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
  • Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
       Two years ago I experienced severe pain as my jaw was locked in the open position.  What was I doing before this occurred; I was laughing at a friend’s joke and happened to sneeze at the same time….. WHAM, instant pain.  Luckily for me, I happened to be a past patient of TheraCORE’s and remembered they offer complementary injury screenings without a prescription from a doctor.   After calling the clinic the next morning, I was asked to come in so they could evaluate my injury and help alleviate the pain.  Heated ultrasound, massage, and The Graston Technique® were performed on my neck and jaw to help release the tightened muscles that were preventing my jaw from closing.  It was explained to me how physical therapy could be beneficial to help diminish my symptoms and release my jaw from its locked position.  They explained the process of faxing over a formal injury screening that explains their findings and a recommended treatment plan to my primary care physician or dentist.   This process was quick and I was able to start PT just a few days later. 
        At the conclusion of my PT visits, I was pain free.  I was provided with helpful tips that will help keep TMJ symptoms at bay.  These included:

  • Avoid chewing gum or candy
  • Cut large/hard fruits or vegetables into bite size pieces, i.e. apples, pears, carrots, celery, etc.
  • Avoid eating anything that requires my jaw to open greater than an inch, cut into smaller bites


   I’m not perfect and occasionally I find myself chewing a piece of gum out of habit, but I have been educated on my condition and have been given home exercises that will help prevent a severe relapse in the future.


Amylynn Kucera, Office Manager – Westmont Clinic

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Often times, we are introduced to the idea of physical therapy in a doctors’ office due to an injury or pain. The doctor tells us that we need to go see a physical therapist and hands us a prescription with orders for therapy. Most of us will end up going wherever our doctor sends us. Many people don’t know that it is their choice as to where they go for physical therapy. Just like finding the right doctor, finding the right physical therapist is very important. Where were they educated? Do they stay up to date on new information and findings in their field? Do they have a hands-on approach, or will you be handed off to an aide or a technician? What kind of facility do they work in? Do they have modern equipment?

The goal at TheraCORE Physical Therapy is to always have experienced therapists delivering personalized care to their patients. Treatments are based on up to date research, using modern equipment, in a welcoming atmosphere. … I’ve known that for nearly six years. I was the first employee hired, when TheraCORE opened in June of 2008. I have spent countless hours marketing the company’s mission throughout the years.

Recently I found myself looking at things from a different perspective. I was having severe pain in my low back and hips. I needed physical therapy. After going through the process as a patient, I can be empathetic to the questions and concerns of others. How much does my insurance actually cover? How am I going to have time to go to physical therapy 2 or 3 times a week? Who is this person that is treating me? How much is this really going to help… is it really worth it? I want to encourage anyone who finds themselves being referred to physical therapy to be sure that you know the company and therapist you are trusting your care to. Get your questions about insurance coverage and out of pocket costs answered by the office manager. See to it that your therapist is well educated in the condition you are being treated for. I know that life is busy. It IS worth it. Make the time. Having the capability to go through life without pain will enable you to take a more active role in whatever it is you are worried about missing due to your therapy appointments.

I’m lucky. I have been treated by all of the therapists at TheraCORE. I am more than confident in their abilities and level of compassion. Today, I am happy to say, I am pain free.

Do what I did, take charge of your wellbeing. Remember: It’s your physical therapy. It’s your choice.


Jenn Hoekstra
Office Manager
TheraCORE Physical Therapy, Lockport, IL