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Massage Therapy for Jaw Pain - Toronto RMT


Few people know that massage therapy is actually quite effective in relieving symptoms from TMJ issues. Working as a Toronto RMT for over 14 years I have surprised many clients with the fact that massage therapy for jaw pain can help relieve the pain, tension or popping sound happening in their TMJ.

Causes of TMJ Issues

There a many causes of TMJ (temperomandibular joint) issues.This is why it is important to get properly assessed before receiving treatment.

  1. Altered dentition: The position of your teeth can cause major issues in your TMJ. If the teeth are not properly aligned, it will alter the ability of the jaw to open and close properly. It also alters the resting position of the joint when your mouth is closed. It is important to get regular check ups from your dentist, and speak to them about your jaw issues. They may suggest orthodontics to properly align the jaw and teeth.

    How massage can help

    In this case, massage therapy cannot fix the problem, but it can be quite successful in alieviating the symptoms. Proper TMJ massage therapy treatments can decrease muscle tension, and imbalances. It can also be used to mobilize a stiff joint, decreasing popping in the joint and increasing mobility. Because orthodontics is the only way to really fix the problem, regular massage therapy treatment will be necessary to keep your symptoms at bay.

  2. Teeth clenching: Most people are not aware that they are clenching their teeth. This is because most of the time it is occurring while we sleep. It is however not limited to night time. Some people clench their teeth all day long without noticing. ( Check to see if you are clenching right now. the normal resting position of the Jaw is tongue on the roof of your mouth, lips closed, and teeth apart. If your teeth are touching while you are resting, then you are clenching your jaw) Clenching of the Jaw is usually stressed related. It then becomes a habit, that your nervous system has a hard time breaking.

    How massage therapy can Help

    Since Jaw clenching is usually stress related, massage therapy is a excellent way to help. Massage therapy relaxation massage has been proven to help shut down the stress response ( fight or Flight) and trigger relaxation ( Rest and Digest). By breaking the stress cycle, night and day jaw clenching will decrease. Proper TMJ massage treatments are also used to relieve the tension in the muscles of the jaw to help decrease pain, discomfort, and increase opening of the mouth.

  3. Improper posture: Improper posture can also cause the muscles of the Jaw to tighten. Sometimes they tighten on both sides, and sometimes they are affected 1 side more than the other. The Jaw has its own center of gravity. When the body is properly aligned the jaw is perfectly balanced, and Jaw center of gravity runs directly through the TMJ. In this position the muscles of the Jaw barely have to work to keep the mouth closed when at rest. As posture is altered, and the neck and head is pushed forward this center of gravity is changed. This makes the muscles have to work harder to keep the mouth closed at rest, and eventually they start to get overworked and tight. Forward head posture also causes some of the muscles of the neck and Jaw to pull your jaw out of alignment, again making the muscles of the jaw work harder to oppose them. Certain, less common postures, such as scoliosis, can cause one side of your jaw to be altered. This can lead to more tension and even popping on one side of the TMJ.

    How massage therapy can help

    Massage therapy is very successful in treating postural dysfunctions, and re-aligning the body. In combination with proper home care exercises massage therapy can usually fix, or significantly improve postural issues. By fixing the deviations there will be less stress on the TMJ muscles, allowing them to heal and relax. With a series of Proper TMJ massage therapy treatments, the muscles of the Jaw can be release, and joints mobilized to decrease tension, and popping.

    What is popping in my Jaw?

    The popping sound that occasionally occurs in your jaw is most often a muscle, called the lateral pterygoid, pulling the small disc in your Jaw joint over a bony prominence. when this muscle gets really tight it will shorten and pull the disc anteriorly over a sticky outy bone piece of your Jaw bone when you open your mouth. This creates a pop noise. In most cases, when you close your mouth the disc goes back into place. There are however times when the disc is pulled to far forward and get stuck there. This causes the jaw to be locked open. A really scary and painful thing to go through. As the disc is pulled forward, it stretches the ligaments that are supposed to hold it in place, making the disc hypermobile

    Massage therapy can help loosen the lateral pterygoid so that it doesen’t pull on the disc as much. This will reduce the disc displacement and the popping noise.

  4. Direct blow to the jaw: A direct blow to the jaw, commonly seen in sports or motor vehicle accidents, can cause the muscles of the jaw to tighten and go into spasm. This is caused by the trauma, inflammation and muscle guarding in response to and acute injury.

How massage therapy can help

Massage therapy can gently work the muscles of the jaw, and the TMJ heals. This will help decrease muscle tension and pain, as well as increase circulation to help decrease inflammation and speed up healing.

Massage therapy for jaw pain :What to expect during a massage therapy TMJ treatment?

Most massage therapy TMJ treatments will begin with a short interview. Your RMT will ask you questions about your jaw, and it’s discomfort. She/he will then perform a short assessment, starting with checking out your posture. (remember postural deviation will affect your Jaw) Your RMT will then ask you to open and close your mouth, move it side to side, and usually feel around your TMJ and face.

The massage that follows will usually consist of addressing the postural issues, stress reduction, and decreasing the tension of the muscles of the neck and scalp.

He/She will then start working on the muscles of the Jaw on the outside of the mouth. They are located in your cheek area, and above your temples and ears. once these muscles are loosened, your RMT will then put on gloves and go work the muscles of mastication from the inside of your mouth. Don’t worry, they will not be working inside your teeth. They will be working the area inside your cheek, but outside of your teeth. The treatment is not painful, and a reduction in symptoms are usually felt immediately. Your RMT can even teach you how to massage this area yourself, so you can do it throughout the day.

massage therapy for jaw pain can quickly help alleviate your Jaw pain, and in some cases prevent them from coming back. All Toronto RMT’s at Myocare RMT are trained in TMJ massage therapy treatments. If you have any questions before booking your treatment do not hesitate to contact us.

Author: MelanieG

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