TMJ Jaw Pain Physical Therapy

About TMJ Syndrome

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) enables you to talk, chew, yawn, sing and open and close your mouth. Sometimes the TMJ becomes painful, and it may even freeze up, making it difficult to open and move your mouth. Disorders of the TMJ most often stem from overuse of the muscles surrounding the joint, or from postural issues that affect the alignment of the upper body, neck and jaw.

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Dr. Lev Kalika
Dr. Lev Kalika

Clinical director & DC RMSK

About Dr. Kalika, TMJ Physical Therapy Specialist

Dr. Lev Kalika’s mission is to change the way chiropractors and physical therapists treat common pain syndromes and injuries like TMJ syndrome. The TMJ specialists at NYDNRehab leverage cutting edge technologies and innovative treatment methods that are rarely found in private PT clinics.
Patients with TMJ syndrome are often subjected to unnecessary, uncomfortable and unsuccessful treatment approaches that do not get to the source of their condition. They often go from dentist to dentist without finding lasting relief for their pain and dysfunction.
Dr. Kalika uses diagnostic ultrasonography to accurately confirm his clinical assessment. He believes that accurate diagnosis is the ultimate key to successful treatment.

The TMJ specialists at NYDNRehab are able to resolve most cases of TMJ syndrome, providing permanent relief for patients suffering from TMJ pain.

Why Treatment at NYDNRehab is Better than
Conventional TMJ Physical Therapy

Conventional medical treatment for TMJ pain often involves muscle relaxants, pain pills, injections and/or surgery. At NYDNRehab, we use conservative, non-invasive methods to rehabilitate and correct the underlying causes of TMJ pain without medications or surgery. Our goal is to find the root causes of TMJ syndrome and eliminate them for good.

tmj specialist nyc

Our TMJ treatment approaches include:


Orofacial TMJ Massage.

TMJ pain often stems from tight muscles and connective tissues. Manual massage therapy can help stretch and relax tight jaw muscles, relieving pain and restoring function.


TMJ Mobilization

The most common source of pain in TMJ syndrome comes from within the TM joint capsule. Laxity and/or tightness of the capsular tissue can cause the disc to subluxate, causing painful and annoying clicking sounds and sensations. In our experience, the TMJ capsule responds very well to manual intra-oral mobilization.


Ultrasound Guided Dry Needling

Dry needling is a successful approach for eliminating trigger points in the masticatory (chewing) muscles. We use ultrasound guidance to visualize trigger points, to ensure precise targeting of the inserted needle, inducing immediate release for rapid pain relief.


Corrective Posture Retraining

Postural issues in the upper spine and neck can cause your TMJ to become misaligned, leading to pain and dysfunction. Corrective physical therapy exercises and improved postural habits can save both your spine and your jaw from pain and dysfunction as you age.


Chiropractic Care

Gentle chiropractic treatment can help restore TMJ alignment and reestablish vital brain-body neural connections.


TMJ Neuromodulation

Our new, non-invasive neuromodulation therapy leverages the latest technology to provide non-invasive TMJ pain relief without surgery. We use ultrasound guidance to locate the trigeminal nerve branches, and stimulate the nerves with transcranial direct current to relieve pain and dysfunction.


TMJ Manually Assisted Corrective Neuromuscular Retraining

Using surface electromyography or manual guidance, we retrain weakened muscles that move or stabilize the jaw, to restore optimal temporo-mandibular mechanics.

TMJ Symptoms, Causes and Risk
Factors of Jaw Pain


  • Pain in the jaw, face or mouth

  • Pain in or around the ear

  • Pain when chewing

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw

  • Freezing or locking of the jaw

  • Headache

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)


  • Trauma

  • Arthritis

  • Stress

  • Teeth grinding or clenching

  • Damage to cartilage or connective tissue

  • Poor upper body posture

  • Erosion or misalignment of the TMJ disc

Risk Factors

  • Chronic stress

  • Excessive use of mobile devices

  • Poor posture

  • Untreated dental issues

  • Being out of shape

  • Disrupted sleep patterns

  • Excessive gum chewing

tmj specialist

Accurate TMJ Diagnosis Means Successful Treatment


Countless unnecessary medical procedures and surgeries are performed each year based on faulty diagnosis, leaving patients discouraged at best, and damaged at worst.

At NYDNRehab, we use real-time diagnostic ultrasonography to view the TMJ in motion. Ultrasound gives us clear images of the TMJ and surrounding tissues, to help us identify the specific source of pain. Dr. Kalika is a trained and certified expert in diagnostic ultrasonography, with multiple publications on the topic to his credit.


Please explore more advanced diagnostic option unavailable anywhere else:


We Use High-Tech Equipment for Optimal Results

Tight fascia, muscles and connective tissues respond well to pressure waves that help them to relax and regenerate. Pressure wave therapies delivered by state-of-the-art equipment can be highly effective in treating TMJ syndrome.


Focudsed, Defocused and Radial Shockwave

  • Extra corporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) delivers high frequency shock waves to damaged tissues, to increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients and stimulate a healing response.

  • Electromagnetic transduction therapy uses electromagnetic fields to reduce pain and stimulate cellular regenesis in targeted tissues. ESWT and EMTT are often used together for the best results in TMJ therapy.



Ultrasound-Guidance makes Our
Injection Therapies More Accurate
and Effective

Being able to visualize damaged and dysfunctional tissues is a game-changer for effective treatment and optimal results.

Ultrasound guidance allows us to precisely target damaged tissues and trigger points for injection therapies and dry needling procedures to relieve TMJ pain. Our advanced technologies set NYDNRehab apart from run-of-the-mill physical therapy clinics that use antiquated and ineffective methods to treat TMJ syndrome.

Ultrasound-Guidance makes Our Injection Therapies More Accurate and Effective

Best Treatment Options

Acute TMJ Pain

  • Ultrasound guided dry needling

  • Mandibular nerve block

  • Mandibular nerve neuromodulation

  • Electromagnetic transduction therapy (EMTT)

Chronic TMJ Pain

  • Specialized TMJ physical therapy

  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)

  • Ultrasound guided dry needling

Get Personalized TMJ Physical Therapy Designed
Just for You

At NYDNRehab, we never take a cookie-cutter approach to patient care. The symptoms of TMJ syndrome vary from one patient to the next, each with their own causative mechanisms. We thoroughly examine each patient and base our treatment solutions on your unique diagnosis. We provide one-on-one Physical Therapy, custom-designed for the individual patient.

tmj image benefit

Benefit from Our Innovative Non-Invasive Therapies

At NYDNRehab, we are all about natural and non-invasive therapies. We are always on the lookout for innovative ways to help the body heal itself without drugs or surgery. Our new non-invasive neuromodulation therapy uses the latest technology that allows for totally non-invasive hands-off treatment without surgery.
When paired with ultrasound guidance, neuromodulation therapy can accurately and precisely target trigeminal nerve branches to generate a healing response that relieves pain and restores TMJ function.

Preventing TMJ Pain

To prevent TMJ pain and dysfunction, you should be aware of any gritting or grinding of teeth, and make a conscious effort to stop. Also be aware of your posture, especially when working on a computer or using mobile devices. Avoid chewing on ice, hard candies or other hard foods. If your bite is misaligned, consult your dentist, or correct it with a tooth alignment device. If your face is asymmetrical or you have a history of head trauma, or if you had braces as a child, consult a specialized TMJ physical therapist, as those issues can cause TMJ disorders.

Preventing TMJ Pain

Get Pain-Free TMJ Treatment That Really Works!

TMJ pain can be both debilitating and embarrassing, interfering with your ability to enjoy life to its fullest. Pain medications and painful surgeries fail to get to the root cause of TMJ, treating the symptoms without resolving the problem.

At NYDNRehab, we make it our mission to get to the source of your pain and dysfunction and correct it, so you can move freely again and enjoy life to its fullest. Contact us today and make an appointment to get rid of your TMJ pain for good.

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    TMJ pain treatment in NYC

    Patients with Temporo-Mandibular joints (TMJ) pain often become victims of excessive fragmentation of our complex healthcare system. An individual with persisting pain in the TMJ area may very soon find himself on a long, if un-amusing, journey through the complicated maze of the medical profession. From a dentist office to a neurologist and chiropractor, through physical therapist, to an otolaryngologist he would go. Even psychiatric advice is often sought when everything else fails. Each specialist would undoubtedly have the insight on the heart of the matter subjecting the patient to various tests and devising a treatment using methods specific to his area of medicine. Much too often however such a patient would emerge from his quest with his insurance coverage strained and his TMJ pain fully intact.

    Most of the time a patient with TMJ problem initially will be seen by an orthodontist or a neuromuscular dentist, because in theory TMJ pain falls within the scope of their expertise. The truth however is that even though TMJs are anatomically located inside the oral cavity their dysfunction and pathology is rarely, if ever, caused purely by strictly dental problems, such as malocclusion or poor dentition. The simplest proof to this is in the fact that elderly people who, for obvious reasons, have much greater incidence of malocclusion statistically suffer much less problems with their TMJs. Another study involving postmortem examination found that a large number of deceased individuals in whom severe malocclusions were detected had no documented history of TMJ problems.

    Due to the deficiencies in healthcare classification standards and overabundance of conflicting scientific evidence about the origin of symptoms like pain in the facial area and TMJ region, persistent headaches, earaches, ringing in the ears, decreased hearing, limited mouth opening, popping or locking of the jaw, hypertonicity of the masticatory musculature and other similar complaints they all are regarded as related to an assortment of conditions involving the Temporo-Mandibular apparatus. The collective term Temporo-Mandibular Disorder or TMD has been coined to describe these conditions without pointing out their etiologies. However, doctors and patients still refer to these symptoms as TMJ pain syndrome.

    What Is TMD?

    TMD is a set of related pathological changes, which produce musculoskeletal symptoms in the jaw. The term TMD is deliberately broad and is only used to organize a variety of dysfunctions and disorders that result in abnormal function of the muscles and joints of the jaws.

    In order to understand TMD and Orofacial pain the clear definition of Temporo-Mandibular complex must be laid out. Temporo-Mandibular complex is an indelible part of the locomotor system responsible for such vital functions like chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing. It includes mandible (lower jaw) bilaterally articulated with the maxilla (upper jaw) by highly versatile Temporo-Mandibular joints (TMJs). The skeletal infrastructure is powered by masticators (chewing muscles), which depress, elevate, protrude and retract the lower jaw. The lower jaw is the main movable component of the Temporo-Mandibular system. Supra- and infra- hyoid muscles, which assist the hyoid bone in its various movements, are closely connected with the above-described functionality. Last, but not least, another important element of Temporo-Mandibular system is the cervical segment of the spine, which is intimately linked to the functioning of the orofacial system. Of utmost importance is the fact that Temporo-Mandibular complex represents an integral part of the whole Locomotor system, meaning that TMJ movement is controlled by the same neurological mechanisms that control any movement in the body.

    Temporo-Mandibular system is densely innervated and its motor control is provided through the integration of stimuli projected from various receptors within the oral cavity, cervical proprioceptors, and receptors located in the nasopharyngeal and gastro-esophageal areas. Sensory input coming from visual, auditory and vestibular areas also affect the function of Temporo-Mandibular system. Not least important is the association of the respiratory system with Temporo-Mandibular functionality. Integration of all of these stimuli with the input coming from muscles and joints of entire Locomotor system, provide the neurological basis for motor control of the Temporo-Mandibular complex.
    Temporo-Mandibular system is one of the most active and powerful structures of human body. It works during the day and while we are asleep. Due to the massive continuous workload and considerable forces exerted by its components it is a subject to breakdowns. Fortunately for the patient the Temporo-Mandibular system is very resilient and capable of self-repair when a proper treatment is administered.

    Causes of Orofacial pain arising from within the Temporo-Mandibular system:

    • Repetitive overload of masticatory muscles and TMJ
    • Acute overload of the Temporo-Mandibular structures
    • Parafunctional habits (lip biting, teeth clenching and grinding and etc)
    • Direct trauma to TMJ
    • Cervical spine dysfunction forward head position and poor scapular stability
    • Malocclusion
    • Cranial malposition and intracranial membrane movement dysfunction
    • Structural deformity of the craniofacial bones (growth disorders)
    • Arthritic disease of TM joints
    • Dysfunctions and pathologies outside the Orofacial system contributing to the breakdown of Temporo-Mandibular complex:
    • Emotional disturbances (depression, anxiety, etc.)
    • Mouth breathing and faulty respiration
    • Chronic nasal airway obstruction (Sinusitis, Adenoidal hypertrophy and others)
    • Swallowing disorders
    • Neurological disease affecting Nervous system (MS, Stroke and etc.)
    • Eyestrain
    • Central coordination disorder
    • General hypermobility
    • Other diseases and dysfunctions, which could mimic Orofacial pain
    • Dental disease infection in the oral cavity, atypical odontalgia
    • Neurological lesions atypical facial pain and Trigeminal neuralgia
    • Oral lesions tumors in the oral cavity
    • Vascular lesions temporal arthritis and facial migraine
    • Ear disorders otalgia of various etiologies
    • Eye disorders
    • Major categories of TMD
    • Myofascial disorders
    • Temporo-Mandibular joint disorders
    • Mandibular mobility disorders
    • Degenerative/inflammatory disorders
    • Growth disorders

    Diagnostics of TMD

    Diagnosed TMDs fall into three basic etiological categories:

    The first category belongs to pure myofascial etiology resulting strictly from hypertonicity of muscle of mastication and muscles of the cervical spine.
    The second category is a mixed etiology. Hypertonicity of masticatory muscles in conjunction with some degree of intra-articular TMJ dysfunction (hypo- or hypermobility in one or both joints, with or without periarticular adhesions).

    Resulting from true intra-articular pathology with locking of the jaw.

    It must be mentioned that mixed etiology includes various contributing factors listed above.

    TMJ Treatment and TMJ Physical Therapy in NYC

    TMDs of any etiology in general seldom require a surgical intervention. Historical research data has shown that jaw repositioning (one of the common measures taken in combating TMDs in adults) has failed to yield any significant improvement in the recovery ratio. It is a risky and expensive procedure that seems to have been developed by creative dental specialists out of desperation due to the lack of better, scientifically proven alternatives. Such dental measures like occlusal grinding, expensive crowns and bridges, and full mouth restorative procedures also lack sufficient statistical evidence proving them to be effective as cure of TMDs. However, TMJ custom made appliances based on radiographic positioning in combination with specific TMJ physical therapy or chiropractic has proven to be the most effective measures in treatment of TMJ pain disorders.

    Conditions from Categories 1 and 2 (see above) fall into the field of  neuromuscular therapy , such as chiropractic or physical therapy specializing in TMJ treatment. Special attention has to be devoted to dysfunction in the Locomotor system as a whole because the local manual approach alone may not be sufficient. Treatment of the entire Locomotor system is necessary to avoid recovery delay and subsequent chronicity. This is especially the reason why intraoral appliances, such as dental splints, should only be used in conjunction with neuromuscular physiotherapy or as a supplemental home therapy to consolidate the recovery achieved by the neuromuscular treatment. Over the counter splints can be tried at first before committing to more expensive custom made appliances.

    TMDs caused by intra-articular pathology (category 3) require close cooperation between orthodontist or maxillofacial surgeon and neuromuscular specialist. The world’s scientific authority recommends treating these cases conservatively until maximum improvement is achieved before committing to surgery. At present about fifty percent of such cases are managed without any orthodontic or orthoghnathic surgical  intervention. At this stage custom made appliances is a must. Only when long rehabilitative approach with specific TMJ  physical therapy has failed surgical intervention may be considered. It must be up to the neuromuscular specialist to make a sound judgment, based on good clinical skills and clear understanding of structural pathology of the TMJ, whether the conservative care is no longer effective and refer the patient for surgical consultation.

    Pain Control and Behavioral Issues

    Although, most of TMJ pain disorders  are self-limiting, they could generate excruciating pain and cause significant distress to the patient. Improper TMJ treatment can lead to chronicity, emotional distress and create a devastating impact on the patients’ quality of life. When chronic TMJ pain is present pain medication and neuromuscular therapy may not be sufficient. Meditation, relaxation and referral to a psychosocial specialist or a pain clinic may be warranted.

    TMJ doctors at Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation in New York City

    At DNR’s office located in Manhattan, Midtown we use comprehensive TMJ treatment approach consisted from specialized TMJ physical therapy exercises such as Roccabado and others well-accepted protocols. Manual intraoral TMJ therapy we use in our NYC facility is combined with cranial osteopathy. TMJ function is intimately related to function of the cervical spine and shoulder girdle. We use DNS ( dynamic neuromuscular stabilization ) approach to restore  functional connections between masticatory muscles and cervicocranial and scapulomandibular muscles. We use soft tissue mobilization techniques to address deep  cervical fascia and its interconnection with craniomamdibular system. For myofascial trigger points in temporo mandibular and cervical muscles we use low energy ESWT devise and cold laser, which are quite hard to find even in New York.

    TMJ pain can become chronic and resistant to treatment if professionals who specialize in TMJ therapy do not timely address it.


    • Do not grind your teeth
    • Do not bite a hard objects
    • Do not clench your teeth
    • Find out if you keep your tension in your face and learn how to let it go

    In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

    Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

    The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

    Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
    the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
    due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
    to proper diagnostic workup

    Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
    to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
    under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


    Complete tear of rectus femoris
    with large hematoma (blood)


    Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
    on dynamic sonography examination

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