Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ)

man clenching jaw causing TMJ jaw pain

TMJ Dysfunction

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint that connects your jaw bone in front of your ear to the bone of your temples. The term is often used to refer to pain or dysfunction of this joint.

What Causes TMJ?

These are a few of the factors that can contribute to pain in the temporomandibular joint:

  1. Stress. The muscle tightness that accompanies stress can cause this joint to work differently than it normally would.
  2. Grinding your teeth. If you clench or grind your teeth at night, you may also experience TMJ dysfunction. Clenching and grinding are often a by-product of stress.
  3. Biomechanics. It may just be that your jaw bone and the connecting bones are not well aligned leading to pain when you eat or talk. Muscle imbalances around this joint can also contribute to the incorrect movement of the joint and therefore pain.
  4. Gum chewing. Yes, believe it or not, the repetitive motion of chewing gum can aggravate the temporomandibular joint and cause jaw pain.

How can massage therapy help TMJ?

Massage therapy helps jaw pain by relieving stress and relaxing muscles. Relaxing the muscles that attach to the joint can help it to function more normally. Stress reduction, acupuncture and chiropractic care can also help relieve pain in your jaw.  Researchers have concluded that massage therapy should be considered as a first choice therapy for TMD pain because of its low risk of side effects.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction and Massage Therapy Research

Adv Clin Exp Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;21(5):681-5.
Massage therapy in myofascial TMD pain management.
Miernik M1, Wieckiewicz M, Paradowska A, Wieckiewicz W.

The authors concluded that conservative treatment including counselling, exercises, occlusal splint therapy, massage, manual therapy and others

J Headache Pain. 2015;16:106. doi: 10.1186/s10194-015-0586-5. Epub 2015 Dec 7.
Reported concepts for the treatment modalities and pain management of temporomandibular disorders.
Wieckiewicz M1, Boening K2, Wiland P3, Shiau YY4, Paradowska-Stolarz A5.

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