TMJ Dysfunction — East Greenwich, RI

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint of the jaw. We each have 2 of them located just in front your ears. Those who have dysfunction or pain in the jaw know exactly where it is located.

When this joint becomes problematic it becomes difficult to open your mouth, bite and chew. The jaw often will click and pop. You may also have headaches. These symptoms can be due to many issues including muscle spasms, inflammation, or problems with the disc in the joint.

One of the underlying problems associated with TMJd is loss of mobility in the upper part of the neck (suboccipital region) and associated postural changes in the spine. These issues cause the jaw to change the way it opens and closes.

Physical therapists should be your go to person to address these problems with the jaw. Treatments include hands on techniques to relax the jaw muscles and correct the mobility issues in the jaw. They also address the underlying neck and posture issues with hands on mobilization techniques. PTs will teach self mobilization and postural exercises so that you can manage the TMJ dysfunction on your own.

Four self treatment activities that may help if your jaw has not been problematic for too long would be:

  1. Self massage: to relax the clenching muscles. Laying on your back with a small pillow supporting your head place your tongue on the top of your mouth allowing your mouth to slightly open. Using your finger tips work in a circular motion at the junction of your jaw just in front of your ear. Move your fingers in forward and backward directions using light pressure. Then stroke down from your temple and cheek bone to the bottom of your your jaw bone gliding over the TMJ.
  2. Shoulder blade pinches: to help correct your posture. Sitting with your back away from the chair, pinch your shoulder blades back and down. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 -20 time
  3. Chin tucks: to help correct your posture and improve neck mobility. Sitting with your back away from the chair, pull your head straight back keeping your chin tucked in. Think of pulling your nose away from something that smells foul.
  4. Resisted jaw opening: to help relax the clenching muscles. Sitting or standing try to assume corrected posture by lightly pinching shoulder blades and tucking chin as described above. Place your fist under your chin. Gently open your mouth, resisting the movement with your fist. Hold for 5 sec. Repeat 5-10 times. This should help with reducing the tone of the clenching muscles around your jaw.

If you need more advanced help in resolving TMJ issues please contact us at RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy or call 401-884-9541. If you are not in the East Greenwich area contact your local PT for further guidance.

Gardening Without Pain

It's April 7th and I think I may be seeing signs of spring! The daffodils at my back door have bloomed. The birds are nosing around the bird houses for a new nesting spot. The neighbors are out raking, trimming, pruning.

Gardening is hard work, especially after a long cold winter. Our bodies are just never prepared for the bending, twisting and lift that comes with getting our yards ready to explode with green grass and vibrant colored flowers. So be sure to plan ahead and pace yourself, especially if you know that your (fill in the blank-- back, knee, shoulder....) has not been feeling so well in the past. Try not to push to get it all done in a single weekend.

Try splitting your yard into segments. Then you can limit how much of any one activity you do. You can spend a period of time raking. Then lift only one bag of lime or fertilizer. Then spend some time standing and pruning your roses or hydrangeas. If you try to keep the area manageable, you will get a good work out and not over use any one body part.

Some ways to avoid aggravating those nagging areas might be:

  • If you have back pain: try working in kneeling or 1/2 kneeling instead of bending at the waist. You can get closer to your work without over straining.
  • If your shoulders are a problem: Try not to over reach. Get the step stool to prune the vines over your arbor instead of reaching overhead for an extended period of time.
  • If your knees give you grief: Limit bending and squatting use your rakes and shovels to pick up your leaf piles instead of bending down to do the pick up.

Making small changes in your approach to spring clean up and prep will make the tasks less taxing on your joints and muscles. You will then be able to enjoy the growing season in your hammock or lounge chair without dealing with that aching back or other body part.

TRX Training

Have you lately heard the terms TRX or suspension training and wondered what they meant? TRX stands for total resistance exercise and suspension training is a system of exercise that utilizes your body weight leveraged against gravity to create resistance. TRX suspension training was born out of necessity by navy seals to stay in peak physical condition while on missions where training space and equipment was at a premium. Because of its versatility, TRX suspension training is now utilized in a wide range of settings from training professional athletes to senior citizen wellness programs, and injury rehabilitation at RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy.

How does TRX suspension training work?

Suspension training uses the basic principles of physics including pendulums, vectors, and gravity to create resistance with one’s body weight. The exercise intensity is determined by alterations in two variables: resistance and stability. Changing the body angle alters the resistance. Changing the foot position alters the stability. Therefore, exercise progression occurs by increasing body angle to increase the resistance, or narrowing of foot position to decrease the stability. These simple principles make suspension training exercises safe and effective for people of all ages, mobility, and ability.

I would like to share two TRX phrases to highlight why suspension training is so effective in rehabilitation. The first is “Train in 3-D” or “Train movement, not muscle.” TRX suspension training trains the body to move freely through space in coordinated movement patterns. All TRX exercises build upon 6 functional movements used in daily life: squatting, lunging, stepping, pushing, pulling, and twisting. Therefore, all exercises performed on the TRX suspension trainer directly help the body to develop strength, mobility, balance, coordination, and endurance to perform these daily activities more safely and efficiently.

The second phrase is “All core. All the time.” TRX suspension training and physical therapy rehabilitation are both based upon the principle that core stability is necessary and prerequisite for safe, effective mobility in the arms and legs. The TRX exercises are designed to promote movement from the core by displacing one’s center of gravity outside their base of support. In doing this, the core is activated with every exercise to return the body to an upright position. Displacing the center of gravity challenges one’s balance and stability. By moving through gravity in this way, these exercises teach the core to work in functional activities so we are able to move more efficiently through space in daily life.

In conclusion, TRX suspension training fits perfectly into the spectrum of physical therapy rehabilitation. It is safe and effective for all people because exercise intensity can be modified based upon individual ability. It trains the body to move more efficiently by activating core musculature with all exercises and utilizing functional movement patterns necessary for daily living. If you are interested in learning more about TRX training contact us at RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy — (401) 884-9541.

Contributed by: Ericka Fryburg, MSPT

Standing Posture

Most of you likely do not know that May is POSTURE MONTH. Who would think that posture could hold your attention for a full month! Well being that posture has an effect on how we move, (or maybe don't move) breath and function there is a lot to know. Please read on for the first of this months four postings on posture.

Standing Postural Assessment
Standing posture is often assessed from the side of one's body with the use of a plumb line. The plumb line is used as a visual reference to look for muscular and skeletal balance in the body. If you have "good posture" the line should pass through your ear lobe, the center of your shoulder, your center of gravity located at the base of your spine, the center of your hip joint, the front portion of your knee joint, and just in front of your outer ankle bone. This alignment maximizes the efficiency of our systems by minimizing the work required by our muscles and decreases stress on the joints.

You can take a look in a full length mirror and get general sense of how "aligned" you are.

  • If your head falls forward of your shoulders you will likely have or develop neck and upper back pain.
  • If your shoulders are forward or your mid back is very rounded you may develop shoulder pain and tendinitis.
  • If your back is excessively arched you will likely increase wear on the small joints of your lumbar vertebrae. That will lead to central back pain.

What to do if you notice any of these problems when you look in the mirror:

There are basic stretching and strengthening exercises that can help correct these issues. 

Give us a call and we will send you a FREE stretching and strengthening program to help you address the tight and/or weak muscles.

For more information you can check out this web site.

As always we hope the information is helpful in your daily pursuit of good health and improvements in mobility.

Golfer’s Body

Preparing your Golfer’s Body

The greens are finally warming up and though many of you probably were able to play through the winter, we will soon be experiencing some awesome sunshining golf days. Shouldn’t you tune up your best piece of sporting equipment? No -- not getting new grips on your clubs or buffing your shoes! I’m talking about the true piece of equipment that will provide the longer drive or more precise putt... your Golfer’s Body!

Considering that you must be fit enough to be on the course for several hours and bend, twist, rotate and squat, what will you do before getting back on the course. Some things to consider are flexibility, strength and balance.

Since the distance you hit the ball depends on the rotation of your trunk and the ability to shift your weight from back to front as you swing it makes sense to work on flexibility of the legs, hips back and shoulders to allow more range in which to develop your swing speed.

But what good is all that motion if you have no control of it?  You need to work on core strength and balance too. What does this mean?  You can do some basic exercises that target the muscles you use to swing your club with better rotation, control and speed.

Here is a great resource for golf related exercises: Take a look and see how easily you can get your Golfer’s Body back in great form.

On top of improving your swing, game and hopefully bragging rights you may well avoid back, hip and knee pain/injury, golfers elbow, rotator cuff issues and many other maladies.

So try a few exercises, get your mobility and strength working for you. Then go on out there and hit em straight and far. If you need more help head to and set up screening to get more help.