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Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy/Physiology

Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy/Physiology
Lori Steinley, PT, MS
May 23, 2012

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Definition of the Temporomandibular Joint

and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a freely moveable (diathrodial) articulation between the condyle of the mandible and the temporal bone.  It is unique because it is a true synovial joint and, therefore, has much in common with the other synovial joints of the body.  It does, however, possess certain unique developmental, anatomical, and functional characteristics which distinguish it from other joints of this type.  We will discuss how this joint is similar as well as different than a lot of other joints that we have in our bodies, and how we can manage this.  Because the TMJ is a synovial joint, it is put in a whole other category.  We will discuss why the TMJ is important and how this is significant for how we use our jaw.

 

We will not be covering temporomandibular joint disorder in this presentation, but I believe it is important to know what this disorder is in order to distinguish it from the actual joint.  Here is the definition of temporomandibular joint disorder from Wikipedia:  Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJD (in the medical literature TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic pain, especially in the muscles of mastication, and/or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull.  The primary cause is muscular hyperactivity or parafunction (not using the joint for what it was made for), as in the case of bruxism with secondary effects on the oral musculoskeletal system, like various types of displacement of the disk in the temporomandibular joint.  The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain, which is the most common TMD symptom, combined with impairment of function.  Because the disorder transcends the boundaries between several healthcare disciplines - in particular, dentistry and neurology - there are a variety of treatment approaches.  When I read this definition, I see many interesting things.  Lay people with access to internet will be checking out Wikipedia and ask themselves if they have this, what do I do with this, and where do I go for this.  I am hoping that they will come to physical therapists because there is a lot in this definition that we can work with.  Hopefully after today you will understand where the muscles are attached and how the disk works normally.  Then you will see why and how we can affect this joint in a positive way. 

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lori steinley

Lori Steinley, PT, MS

Lori Steinley, PT, MS is a 1988 graduate of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical therapy.  She is a 1994 graduate of St. Cloud State University with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology.  Lori has spent the majority of her clinical practice in outpatient orthopedics with an emphasis on the neck, back, TMJ and headaches.  She began working with patients with temporomandibular disorders in 1992 and has over 250 continuing education hours of instruction in assessment/treatment of the head/neck region. Lori is also a physician assistant, graduating from the University of North Dakota in Grade Forks, North Dakota, Magna Cum Laude, May 2014. She continues to maintain her physical therapy degree but is presently working as a physician assistant in Urology, primarily with pelvic pain patients.   



Related Courses

Temporomandibular Joint-Anatomy/Physiology
Presented by Lori Steinley, PT, MS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #1071Level: Intermediate2 Hours
This course is designed to familiarize participants with the anatomy/physiology of the temporomandibular joint.

Temporomandibular Joint-Physical Therapy Assessment and Treatment
Presented by Lori Steinley, PT, MS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #1072Level: Intermediate2 Hours
Please note: This course is also offered in a series of recordings titled "The Temporomandibular Joint", course 1416.

This course is designed to instruct participants in the physical therapy assessment and treatment of the temporomandibular joint-including discussion of modalities, manual techniques and home exercises.

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Presented by Rhondi Miller, PT, MS, SCS, ATC
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The reformer is an effective tool for rehabilitating the lower body. This course will provide exercises appropriate for progressing lower extremity rehab from ankle injury, to post-op knees, to hip pain. Exercises focus on the concepts of motor control, stability/mobility system balance, movement competency and training functional movement patterning. This course is part three of our four part series on Pilates. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and athletic training and therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA and AT.

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A reformer is an effective tool for rehabilitating the upper body. This course will provide exercises appropriate for progressing upper extremity rehab from scapular control to glenohumeral stability, to fully-integrated shoulder girdle training. Exercises focus on the concepts of motor control, stability/mobility system balance, movement competency and training functional movement patterning. This is part four of our four-part series on Pilates. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and athletic training and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA and AT.

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