Do you suffer from bad tooth ache? Annoying earache? Nagging headache? Violent jaw tension? Do you have just one symptom or all of the above symptoms at the same time? You may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). I've had it too, and I fixed it. Please watch the first YouTube video titled "TMJ" where I share my story and all the symptoms in which TMJ may manifest itself.
TMJ is a hard working joint, and it performs on average of 2,000 movements per day. If you had trauma, struggle with jaw misalignment, eat hard foods, chew gum, grind your teeth at night (bruxism), or tense your jaw due to stress or anxiety, or have postural deviations you will overuse the masticatory (the chewing) muscles. In its turn, it will irritate the trigeminal nerve. It will further constrict the muscles. When the muscles exhibit hypertonic abnormalities, they develop trigger points which refer pain to other areas in the body. Trigger points in the temporalis muscle, for instance, refer pain to the upper teeth. Trigger point in masseter refer pain to the upper and lower teeth. And trigger points in medial and lateral pterygoids refer pain to the ear and the cheek. Furthermore, 1/3 of 700 lymph nodes are located in the neck. Inflammation, chronic pain, and poor lymphatic flow results in jaw tension. Due to the involvement of so many anatomical and physiological structures in TMJ phenomena, you may have been struggling with pain for years. You may have even tried the night guard. The truth is that the night guard doesn't solve the issue 100%, but dentists and medically certified massage therapists can work together as a team to improve the outcome. I discuss this in the second video titled "TMJ 2".
How can we solve TMJ? In the following video I go over different options. To learn more, please watch the third video titled "TMJ 3". As you've seen some of the above strategies have side effects, pros and cons, and not all of them work. Science and experience has shown that the best option for TMJ sufferers is the combination of medical massage therapy and self care. Cold laser therapy (or near infra red light therapy) can be used as well. During medical massage therapy procedure, we find the root cause of TMJ, relax the masticatory muscles of the face with the use of near infrared light and therapeutic massage techniques, and professionally remove the trigger points. Intra-oral massage (with gloved hands) is proven to provide great relief to my clients. If you have poor lymphatic flow, we manually drain the lymph from the face down to the clavicular lymph nodes decreasing pain and inflammation. If you have postural deviations contributing to TMJ, we are able to correct it with myofascial release techniques. Shiatsu can be incorporated during the session to balance your energy and relieve stress.
Because studies have shown that 60% to 90% of patients had improvement in symptoms after using self-management techniques, self care is essential to the treatment plan. Therefore, we educate you on self massage techniques to address your specific situation. In a clinical study of 448 patients with TMJ dysfunction, Hodges (2000) compared the clinical effect of massage therapy (where self massage was one of the key elements of care) and arthroscopic surgery. The success rate in the group of conservative management of TMJ dysfunction was 75% compared to 64% in the group with surgical disk replacement. Sleep hygiene, stress management techniques, and nutrition can be discussed as well to ensure successful outcome.
Another important requirement is the compliance with frequent sessions with no long break in between. You will feel better after three sessions, but two to three sessions per week for 4-5 weeks will completely eliminate the problem. The bottom line, medical massage therapy is a great noninvasive option to solve TMJ problem, and get the quality of life back!