Persistent TMJ Pain? Trigger Point Massage and Jaw Exercises Can Help

It’s been a jaw clench, teeth-grinding kind of week. And now, you have excruciating jaw pain. Take some Advil? You might try a band-aid before that will help!

How do you spell this type of pain relief? M-A-S-S-A-G-E.

TMD: What a pain in the … temporomandibular joint

There are plenty of factors contribute to disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that causes:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness, often while chewing.
  • Headache or facial pain.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw while opening or closing the mouth.

There are different causes of TMD issues, including arthritis or a jaw injury. But if it is related to tightness and imbalance in the TMJ muscles because of clenching, a professional jaw massage might be what is needed to help you move into a greater sense of ease.

“I’ve found manipulation by a professional, plus jaw exercises, to be highly effective,” says chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC. “When painkillers and bite guards don’t cut it, these types of manual therapy are a good next step.”

TMJ trigger point massage

Trigger points are hyper-tensed muscles (aka muscle knots) that cause jaw aches and pains.

The masseter muscle is used for chewing and jaw clenching. Muscle overuse from teeth grinding and jaw clenching causes the muscles to become tense, sore and very painful. 

Massage or manual therapy may create more blood flow and allows for a quicker mend to those muscles.

The therapist starts by gently finding the muscle to relax it. Next, they firmly press a thumb or finger into the tissue to identify and apply pressure to any trigger points. Find areas where the the circuitry of the muscle has adhesions and limits conduction. This can all be worked out with massage therapy.

TMJ exercises

To keep the jaw muscles smooth and supple, you can also perform simple jaw exercises at home.

Exercise #1: Jaw relaxation

Exercise #2: Chin tucks

Exercise #3: Mouth resistance

Exercise #4: Side-to-side, front-to-back jaw movements

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