Nagging jaw pain? Do you get an annoying clicking in your jaw when you chew food? You just might have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ for short. What is the TMJ? It is a hinge joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. When there is dysfunction in this area symptoms can be:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Facial & ear aches
- Difficulty chewing or very uncomfortable when chewing
- Locking of the joint which can be very difficult opening and closing the mouth
Clicking of the joint is also a symptom, but if there is no pain when opening/closing the mouth treatment may not be required (it can self-correct). For all other symptoms being painful or uncomfortable, treatment is recommended. How does one get problems with TMJ? There can be many different factors as to why people get TMJ. It could be a punch in the face, stress from life (which can cause clinching of the jaw that makes muscles in that area super tight), arthritis, the disk at the joint moves out of alignment, or other unknown factors.
If this condition becomes serious enough (the joint remains locked), medical attention may be required. But in most cases, TMJ can be handled with manual therapies, and understanding what may be causing the symptoms. Generally doctors will give anti-inflammatories and possibly a mouth guard if needed. Dentists also know a thing or two on how to treat TMJ disorders as well.
So how can massage help? I've been trained in intra-oral TMJ release which has helped several of my clients with their TMJ. If you would like to see what that looks like, you can check this video out HERE. Trust me, it's not as scary as it looks, and many of my clients see a great benefit. There are other ways to work on this condition though, so if that isn't comfortable to you, I like to use active-resistive stretching techniques and trigger point therapy on the outside of the jaw. Here are some of the points I would work on when performing massage for TMJ:
Even though the jaw may be tender, your pain may be coming from other places. So when I do massage for TMJ, I will also work upper shoulder, front neck muscles, and muscles around the ears to loosen contracted muscles that can contribute to the pain. In more severe cases, it may take several sessions of massage to achieve lasting relief. Are you experiencing jaw pain? Make an appointment today and we can discuss how to possibly bring relief for this area.