Address TMJ issues by using massage therapy
Did you know that masseter, the main muscle of chewing, is the strongest muscle in the body when judged by weight? It’s true.
The masseter muscle is also capable of holding a lot of tension. You’ve probably never given it much thought. I didn’t either, until I signed up for a workshop on temperomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and dysfunction earlier this year.
Even as a massage therapist who makes a living on muscle tension, I was unaware of just how prevalent jaw pain is. Thanks in no small part to the busy-ness and stress of our modern world, clenching and grinding the teeth has become very common. Dentists have been providing mouth guards to save the teeth, but this has not addressed the effects of clenching, grinding, and other stressors (such as trauma or orthodontics) on the jaw musculature.
There are many reasons to consider a TMJ treatment. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Does your jaw hurt?
- Do you clench and/or grind your teeth?
- Has your dentist recommended a mouth guard?
- Have you ever had braces?
- Do you experience pain with chewing?
- Do you experience popping and clicking sounds when you open and close your jaw?
- Have you noticed that you can’t open your mouth as wide as you used to?
- Do you have frequent headaches?
- Do you wake up with a headache after a night of clenching?
Not many people know that massage therapists are trained to treat the TMJ, but in fact massage therapy is an excellent way to address the issue!
During TMJ treatments, the massage therapist will usually treat the neck and shoulders as well as the muscles of the scalp, face and jaw. Some TMJ muscles (like the pterygoids which act on the articular disc of the jaw) are difficult to reach and, when necessary, are treated intra-orally where the therapist uses disposable gloves.
John W. Corry, an RMT and founder of the “TMJ Mastery” teaching program, has been focusing on TMJ massage treatments for more than 20 years. Today, approximately 80% of his massage therapy clientele are there to get treatment for their aching and sore jaw. Another colleague I met at the workshop told me that the majority of her practice involves helping to relieving jaw pain and dysfunction.
If you’re interested in jaw pain or tension relief, ask us about scheduling an appointment with myself, Marianne Premuzic, today!