New approach to correct jaw pain

Paul Gregory suffered from facial pain for years before he was diagnosed with Temporomandibular Disorder – commonly referred to as TMD or TMJ.

“I was dizzy, and (doctors) told me that maybe it was my ears or maybe the sinuses,” Gregory, a 41-year-old New York City resident, told  “I couldn’t talk loudly.  I couldn’t speak a lot.  I couldn’t chew any hard food.”

Gregory’s diagnosis finally came when he visited Dr. Frederick Stange of City Dentist in New York.  Stange has been using a new approach to diagnose patients like Gregory – nerve stimulation.

“We will evaluate the patient with a  TENS unit, what’s a trans-epithelial nerve stimulation,” Stange said.  “It relaxes the muscles and allows us to find: Is the trouble in the joint? Is the trouble in the bones? Is the trouble in the teeth? Or is the trouble in the muscle?”

Stange realigned Gregory’s teeth and fixed his cross bite, alleviating his pain.  But for some patients, the problem is rooted in the muscles.  For these cases, Stange calls in physical therapist Karina Wu.

“We’ve collaborated together to try to help patients with TMJ, because it’s a joint like any other joint in the body, and it can get out of alignment; it can get inflamed; it can click; it can lock and you could need surgery,” Wu said.

Michelle Won has been suffering with TMJ issues for years, but she ultimately found Wu could help treat the pain in her jaw.  For Won, Wu stretches out the pelvis, hips and thighs, aligns the spine and neck and then massages out the jaw joint.  Won said she loves the holistic approach because it’s non-invasive and some of the exercises can be done at home.

“I never would have thought that TMJ is curable with physical therapy,” Won said.

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