Kneading Relief for TMJ Pain by Tammy Campbell

Do you or anyone you know suffer from pain in your face and jaw? It may be painful to chew or open your mouth or you have begun experiencing headaches and find yourself rubbing your jaw for relief. Popping and clicking may come and go when you chew or open your mouth . Your jaw opens and closes unevenly.   According to the TMJ association (TMJA), “35 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ problems at any given time.”  Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly referred to as TMD or TMJD, encompasses a range of symptoms characterized by discomfort in the jaw joint and surrounding soft tissues.  Sadly for those who suffer and frustrated practitioners who treat them, TMJD falls in between the cracks of medicine and dentistry.  Currently there are no established standards of care in clinical practice and it is difficult to gain access to insurance coverage until it dysfunction has set in and become catastrophic.

The good news is there are established ways to relieve the pressure, gain relief, and assist in maintaining the health of your pair of temporomandibular joint. The National Institutes of Health advises patients to look for a health care provider who understands and is trained to treat musculoskeletal disorders (pain and functional conditions that are caused by or negatively impact muscles and joints).  Hands On Health’s therapists are trained to treat musculoskeletal disorders and one of the more intensive training series that our the therapists undergo is specific to TMJD and cervical dysfunction.

At our practice, I am labeled “TMJ Queen”, as people with TMJD are one of my favorite populations.  Having suffered headaches most of my life, my suffering has greatly subsided as a result of TMJ treatments, both inside my mouth as well as outside on my face, scalp, and temples. Of the 300 (minimum) skeletal muscles found in your body, 52 are found in your face! I tell clients all the time that intraoral TMJ massage (with a gloved hand) brings a tremendous amount of relief to the jaw.  I have found this also helps with other TMJD related symptoms such as temporal headaches, ear pain and dizziness, and may be the key to relieving stubborn tension and stress that builds in the neck and shoulders.  Once clients get over the fact that the idea of getting bodywork done inside the mouth can sound strange, they are open to trying it. It is exciting to have clients continue to ask for this kind of specialty massage and experience how treatments can improve their life quality.

Based on my 16 years of therapeutic experience, now might be a good time for me spearhead a case study relating to TMJD or other jaw related disorder. After all, the Massage Therapy Foundation offers a case study and publishing contest, allowing for peer review and submission to a medical journal, The International Journal Of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Cofounder Laura Landsiedel will be coming home from New Zealand shortly. After teaching at the New Zealand College of Massage, she’ll be bringing back case study related knowledge to our practice, allowing for direct leadership within our practice. Being part of a practice dedicated to evidence based treatments allows me to stay current with the latest research outcomes and helps me practice what I love best: helping people get well, feel well, and embrace living.

View our TMJ Videos

To read about more facts, tips and research about TMJ, visit the following links:

The Basics of the Jaw Joint

Less Is Often Best In Treating TMJ Disorders

Changes in Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Symptoms Following Massage Therapy: A Case Report