Many people live with painful jaw issues and do not know that Registered Massage Therapy care can offer some relief and correction for these debilitating issues.
What are TMJ Disorders?
TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, can refer to a variety of conditions of the jaw where your temporomandibular joint is not able to hinge as it should. This can result in:
- Pain in the jaw area
- Clicking in the joint
- Facial pain
- Ringing or pain in the ears
- Difficulty chewing or opening and closing the mouth
What causes TMD?
TMD can be linked to a variety of possible causes:
- Injury to the face or jaw from trauma
- Tightness in the musculature of the face and neck that can be a result of stress.
- Dental issues such as malocclusion (when your teeth don’t fit together properly)
- Arthritis in the joint
- Teeth grinding
- Excessive chewing – whether its chewing gum, frequently eating foods that overwork the jaw, or nervous habit chewing such as chewing on pens.
- Jaw clenching due to stress
- Sleeping on stomach – this can cause the jaw to shift sideways to accommodate for the position which can lead to joint dysfunction over time.
These are just a few common causes. Other joint pathologies may be a factor and any new onset of pain should be discussed and diagnosed by your physician.
How can massage therapy help?
Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are trained to assess Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. They will make a treatment plan that incorporates massage of the musculature surrounding the joint, joint mobilizations and at home recommendations.
Massage Techniques are focused on the muscles that hinge the jaw as well as treatment of the musculature of the neck and upper back. Sometimes jaw pain can also be the result of stress and having regular massages can also help manage stress and promote more restful sleep. This can help diminish the likelihood of clenching and grinding teeth.
When working on the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint, your treatment plan may incorporate treatment to muscles that are most easily accessed from inside the mouth such as your medial and lateral pterygoid muscles and aspects of the masseter muscle. These muscles are your primary jaw movers. When working on these muscles, your massage therapist will wear a glove and use one finger to manipulate the affected muscles to get them to release and relax. The work done inside the mouth is not for long periods of time. Consideration and precautions are taken for sensitive gag reflexes and your comfort.
Joint mobilizations can be a common addition to any massage treatment and can be especially effective for conditions of the temporomandibular joint. This is usually non invasive and done within your comfort levels to help encourage range of motion and proper joint function.
Home Care Recommendations
Home care recommendations are also an important part of your treatment plan. Doing exercises and recommendations at home can further your progress significantly. Your massage therapist may recommend stretches for the neck and jaw; the use of hydrotherapy – for example, a hot water bottle applied to tight musculature; self massage; and recommend changes that you can make to prevent further issues such as not chewing gum or postural awareness.
Your RMT may also chose to refer you onto a dentist or oral specialist if issues such as malocclusion or grinding are a concern.
If you are suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, send us a message to see if we can help your condition. Although all Registered Massage Therapists receive some training on this condition, some of our RMT’s have specific training or experience with TMD. Please reach out for recommendations on who would be best suited to help you get relief.