Disorders of the temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, can cause a variety of jaw, head, neck and shoulder pain and discomfort.
The masseter muscle, which is the main chewing muscle that extends along the sides of the jaw just behind the cheeks, allows you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. This clenching and grinding can lead to TMJ and other facial or ear pain.
TMJ disorders affect as many as 85 percent of Americans at some point. An estimated 4 in every 10 Americans experience clicking, popping or other sounds in the jaw joints.
Symptoms of TMJ include:
- Pain and muscle spasms in the head
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
- Locking of the jaw when attempting to open the mouth, inability to open the mouth comfortably
- A bite that feels uncomfortable or “off”
- Teeth grinding and clenching
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Ringing in the ears or ear pain
Although surgery comes to mind as the most common resolution for relieving symptoms, targeted massage therapy is a non-surgical option that helps to alleviate pain and muscle tension associated with TMJ.
Massage Concepts therapists have undergone specialized training to assess the facial muscles in order to eliminate trigger points or “knots” in the muscle fascia surrounding the jaw area.
During TMJ massage, pressure points are manipulated in the jaw muscles to help relieve their spasms. A combination of massage techniques address tightness in the shoulders, neck, face and arms with the goal of offering relief, increasing blood flow to the muscles and elevating endorphin levels to further reduce the client’s pain and stress. Kneading, stripping and trigger point release often are used on neck muscles.
The Shiatsu and Swedish massage techniques often are used during massage therapy, because these techniques restore and maintain the body’s balance and prevent the build-up of stress and decrease pain. This is an important aspect of relieving TMJ, because stress is a major contributor to TMJ disorders.
Swedish massage, in particular, relaxes the entire body. The body’s relaxation response can have a significant impact in reducing tension held in the jaw.
As with all targeted massage, regularly scheduled sessions provide the best results.
Massage therapists cannot diagnose TMJ disorders, only dental professionals are able to determine if TMJ is the cause of facial and jaw pain. Before seeking treatment, always consult with the appropriate medical professional first.
For more information about Massage Concepts or to book an appointment, online go to www.massageconceptsdelmar.com or call 858-847-2777.