"If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won't have to hear it when it screams."

- Unknown Authour

Why Massage For TMJ Dysfunction (TMD)?


Living with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is often a chronic and lifelong challenge for many suffers of this condition. The jaw pain, headaches, and inability to eat hard and chewy foods among many other symptoms of this condition can greatly affect quality of life. This coupled with the lack of medical treatment and knowledge of TMD is very discouraging for those living with this condition.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is frequently unacknowledged as a source of pain in many head, neck, face, and vocal conditions. People who experience headaches, motor vehicle accidents, sport or work site injuries, often have jaw issues that can accumulate to overwhelming levels. 

Clenching the teeth is a very common habit during sleep, while concentrating, or from stress. This often results in compressive forces in the joints and asymmetrical muscle tightness which can lead to clicking, pain and ultimately joint damage. Resolving the joint compression and muscular tension can re-pattern the jaw mechanics and save pain and difficulties decades later.

What is TMD?

The TMJ is located just in front of your ear and is responsible for movement of the jaw. When this joint becomes damaged, surrounded by imbalanced muscles, or compressed due to injury, or stress, TMD can occur. This is a disorder of the muscles of mastication (chewing), the joint itself and associated structures such as ligaments. This can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.


Symptoms of TMD:
  • Pain or tenderness localized at the joint
  • Popping or clicking of the jaw
  • Difficulty and/or pain when chewing
  • Pain that feels like it could be a toothache
  • Headaches
  • Tight, stiff, or sore jaw or neck muscles
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Ear pain or ringing/popping sounds or a sense of fullness in the ears
  • Locking or dislocation of the jaw, commonly referred to as lockjaw
  • Dizziness or vertigo

Contributing Factors:

  • Misalignment (malocclusion) of the teeth or jaw
  • Teeth clenching/grinding (bruxism),
  • Poor posture
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders,
  • Excessive gum chewing
Why Massage for TMD?

The TMJ is supported and suspended solely by soft tissue, which makes it the ideal condition to be treated with massage therapy. I have taken advanced training to be able to isolate and treat the muscles of mastication (chewing) that contribute to jaw pain. The massage treatments for this condition will help reduce discomfort with decompression of the affected joint, and restore balance in the muscles by reducing the tension.

Benefits of Massage
  • Can reduce intensity and frequency of TMJ related pain
  • Improve jaw range of motion
  • Reduce tension in the jaw and neck muscles
  • Reduce jaw clicking
  • Reduce headaches related to TMJ
  • Reduce ear pain and tooth pain related to trigger points in the muscles of the jaw
  • Alternative to surgical or pharmaceutical intervention

What to Expect

The treatment protocol takes a full-body approach focusing primarily on the jaw, neck and head and involves working directly on the muscles inside the mouth within the client’s comfort. The massage is centered around releasing fascia, which is the main connective tissue of the body. It is like a three-dimensional web which spreads from head to toe.

In its normal state fascia is fluid and pliable, allowing full, pain-free movement. However, it is vulnerable to trauma, injury, or repetitive movement. This can cause it to tighten and develop restrictions that can lead to poor biomechanics, altered joint alignment, and pain. This treatment works to release the fascia and muscle tension to take pressure off pain sensitive structures, reduce pain in the jaw, and improve range of motion. The treatment is subtle, relaxing and effective.

Like many other therapies it is most effective when received initially on a consistent basis. However, even by the end of one treatment you may experience significant relief in achy jaw muscles. Treatment goals and criteria for detecting progress will be established so you may measure effectiveness. Longstanding issues can frequently be improved but not fully resolved. In these cases clients “graduate” after an initial series of monthly or seasonal visits to keep old patterns from recurring; feeling well for longer is the intent.

COVID-19 Safety:

With COVID-19, treatments for TMJ Dysfunction have been adapted to keep both client and therapist safe. The clinic has adopted a protocol, which is designed to provide maximum protection against the spread of the virus. The techniques have been modified to work with PPE, while still delivering effective quality care. Both client and RMT will be wearing a face shield and surgical mask when working within the tissues of the mouth. In addition to PPE, hand signals are used by the client to communicate their needs in regards to pressure, location of discomfort, referred pain and more to avoid expelling respiratory droplets. These hand signals are reviewed prior to treatment as well as posted visibly for reference.

Are you ready to get back to eating the foods you love?, Not waking up with a headache?, or feeling tension in your jaw? Schedule your appointment today.


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