You may ask… What exactly is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)? TMJ is known as the jaw joint, it is a hinge joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull. It needs to be flexible in order to allow your jaw to move up and down and side. The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body and has many components such as: Bones, teeth, ligaments, tendons, nerves and muscles.
Dysfunction and pain in the TMJ is surprisingly common and affects between 65% and 85% of people in their lifetime. Pain and clicking occurs in the joint when becomes dislodged and or compressed due to tight muscles due to grinding of teeth while sleeping, tightening of face muscles and clenching of the jaw due to stress, arthritis, postural dysfunction, or from accidents such as whiplash.
In addition, TMJ can cause a ripple effect of problems in the neck and upper body. A TMJ sufferer may also experience:
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Ear aches
Problems in the TMJ can cause severe discomfort and can be very problematic for dentists to treat. Recently, however, dentists have begun to refer more TMJ patients to Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs), as the benefits of Massage Therapists that are specially trained in treating TMJ have become more apparent.
Massage Therapy TMJ treatment addresses the root cause of the issue, helping patients regain full movement and strength in the joint and relieving pain and discomfort. This treatment helps restore proper joint mechanics, which in turn can prevent long-term effects such as arthritis and adhesion/fibrosis.
Massage therapy modalities that can be beneficial to TMJ patients are numerous, and include:
- Neuromuscular Therapy – To target triggers points in the jaw muscles as well as addressing postural distortion and bio-mechanical dysfunction
- Intra-oral massage- Highly recommended to target the related muscular head on. If done correctly intra-oral massage is very comfortable for the client.
- Cranial Sacral Therapy – To unblock nerve passages in the spine, skull and cranial sutures
- Swedish Massage – To reduce tension and anxiety
- Myofascial Release – Relaxes and stretches affected muscles and fascial tissues in the jaw, neck, and shoulders
- Post-isometric relaxation- Exercises to allow the jaw to relax in a not invasive way.
Benefits: Decreased pain, clicking, and popping; improved tracking of the jaw; decrease in clenching, headaches, and referred pain to teeth; increased awareness of how posture affects TMJ mechanics.
At Core Elements we are specially trained in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) treatment. If you are looking for great results from the pain TMJ can cause we can help!