TMJ and Myofascial Pain

 

The topic is Temporomandibular joint disorders. More commonly referred to as “tmj”, the disorder, with its variety of symptoms, received national attention in the 1980’s as the new “dumping” diagnosis. In some social circles it was even fashionable or trendy to have TMJ.  Myofascial Release has been found to be an effective treatment for TMJ.

Approximately 10 million Americans have tmj. Seventy five percent of which being women ages 20-50 (similar statistics are seen for the incidence of fybromyalgia). Tmj can be an initiating factor in 80% of all chronic pain disorders and may be the underlying cause of many chronic pain conditions. A myofascial release principle in is “find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause”, as the fascial web causes many pain patterns to be referred from the primary site.

 

What is the temporomandibular joint?

Located in front of the ear canal on either side of the head, the joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. The joint allows for opening, closing and side to side movements involved in chewing, speaking and yawning. The primary muscles controlling these movements and subsequent muscular dysfunctions are the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid muscles.

Myofascial Release Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint

Disorders (TMJ)

What causes TMJ disorders?

Known causes or contributing factors of TMJ include direct injury to the jaw, face or head from a heavy blow or whiplash. Other direct intrinsic factors include clenching or grinding the teeth, arthritis,dislocation of disc, and psycho-emotional stress. indirect or extrinsic factors can include trauma to anywhere else in the body, poor pelvic alignment, muscle/ postural imbalances, poor oral habits and/or
body mechanics at home and work. since one tmj cannot move independently of the other, it is considered a “bilateral joint”. Being a bilateral joint makes it more prone to and directly affected by fascial misalignments.
 

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

Common symptoms of tmj listed as follows:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, neck, shoulders, jaw joint

  • Pain, clicking and/or popping when opening or closing the jaw

  • A tired feeling in the face

  • Jaw locking /difficulty opening or closing mouth

  • Headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, ear pain, teeth pain

  • Muscle spasms, extremity numbness, backaches

  • Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, frustration, anger, and depression

What are the treatment options for TMJ?

Treatment for tmj ranges from various conservative care protocols to surgery. The vast array of symptoms and etiologies, treatment of tmj is a case by case protocol and should take into account each individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practices.

 

What is the philosophy for treatment and management of TMJ?

 

Our focus is on structural and fascial misalignments and the resulting compensations within the body. Our therapist’s advanced manual and didactic skills are well suited in evaluating and treating the many components involved in creating tmj symptoms. Staring from your initial evaluation until you are discharged, our therapists constantly monitor the progress of your changing postural and movement patterns. We are trained to help facilitate positive change in postural and structural imbalances, core stability, body mechanics, harmful oral habits and home stretch and exercise routines. A skilled assessment of your particular patterns is essential to create an individualized protocol to remedy your tmj symtoms.

Things you can do to help your own symptoms:

Use manual techniques to treat yourself in addition.  Some self treatment protocols you can do at home:

  • Stand pressing down on the corners of our feet, relax your abdomen, lift your chest up and have your shoulders relaxed, relaxed and balance  spine.

  • Rotate your neck in a clockwise motion pain free position and then repeat in a counterclockwise direction.

  • Continue in the same position now performing shoulder shrugs, shoulder rolls forward and backward. End with pulling shoulder blades together and downward raising your arms overhead.

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor, keep your knees at 90 degrees, have your hands on your face in front of your ears and gently massage your temples and jaw line. Keep hands along your jaw line, gently push up, compressing the tmj. Hold this position for a couple minutes. Next, switch directions, gently pulling down towards your feet, distracting the jaw at the tmj

  • without sliding on the skin. Note that jaw position for these stretches and in general at most times should be with lips together, teeth slightly apart, lower jaw relaxed and tongue resting on the roof of the mouth.

Get regular treatments at Long Island Myofascial Release – whether you are symptomatic or not, regular body work is essential to maintain our health and well being. For acute/chronic symptoms, let our advanced therapists evaluate you and create a treatment protocol just for you. For general maintenance, let our gifted massage therapists work out your daily stress through our “advanced massage therapy” practice.