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Exam and Treatment of a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Client

Lori Steinley, PT, MS

June 15, 2012

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Question

How long does it typically take to complete a TMD exam and what is the typical number of visits for seeing these patients?

Answer

I have worked in two TMD clinics which had a psychologist, physical therapist, and a dentist.  I loved these practices because we were allowed to have a patient for 30 minutes.  I did an assessment, and so did my colleagues.  Then we all convened to discuss the plan for the patient.  I typically can get a TMD exam done between 20 and 25 minutes.  Patients like to tell about their symptoms so the exam may take up to 30 minutes.  I am allowed to have an hour with my people on their first visit.  I get the evaluation done, give them some home exercises, and possibly get another modality in.  For typical amount of visits, I tell my patients that I typically would see them 4 to 10 times.  Usually within 4 treatments, I expect to see a difference.  The pain or discomfort may not be all gone, but there should be a difference in the problem.  I provide manual therapy, a good sound home exercise program, get rid of the parafunction, see if they need to see a dentist, etc.  I do not recommend a dental intervention if the patient is ok with the mouth guard right away.  We may be able to accomplish a difference before seeing a dentist. 


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.   


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