Temporomandibular Joint - TMJ
Many people suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms. These symptoms can vary; from the occasional slight annoyance, to frequent and extreme misery.
I am convinced (from the many dozens of TMJ cases I have treated) that most of the time, pain in or around the TMJ is caused by trigger points (TrPs).
I often see clients who complain of this issue, and always find extensive TrPs in the muscles around the jaw . The TrPs and involved muscles that play a major roll in TMJ are the masseter, lateral and medial pterygoid, temporalis and sternocleidomastoid. These muscles should ALWAYS be checked for trigger points, if you are suffering from TMJD or other jaw/bite issues.
Dentists, orthodontists and doctors, are the professionals we usually seek-out to treat this painful disorder. This seems to make logical sense because the problem is around the mouth, teeth, jaw, the TMJ, etc. But keep in mind that muscles very often develop trigger points in this area too.
I've had considerable success with treating TMJ issues. This success is achieved without the need for mouth-guards, splints, teeth filing, jaw modification, or other orthodontic work. This is achieved by simply removing the causal trigger points... the involved muscle(s) returns to normal and the referred pain/symptoms disappear. Many clients notice an improvement after only a few treatments. Seems so simple doesn't it?
Prior to knowing about trigger points, I had such extreme TMJ issues that at times I could not open my mouth. (Iím sure some people thought it a blessing!) Now I keep my jaw muscles (e.g. masseters, lateral pterygoids and digastrics) free from trigger points... and have had no problems with TMJD, for many years.
The various muscles that control jaw function have to be working in concert for optimal jaw performance and comfort. One relatively small muscle (i.e. the lateral pterygoid) if "shortened" by trigger points, can easily cause jaw alignment chaos. Just a slight misalignment of the mandible (lower jaw) can change how the teeth mesh... the problems then begin, and usually get worse with time.
Iím hoping you've already given up on chewing gum? If not... please, spit it out now! Constant chewing overtaxes the muscles of the TMJ and will lead to problems.
Trigger points that are causal to "classic" TMJD symptoms, might also cause other trigger point related problems such as vertigo, vision disorders, ringing in the ear(s), or itchiness deep in the ear, sinus issues, toothache and more!
If you are suffering from jaw (joint) pain or jaw clicking or popping, or limited jaw mobility and itís not getting better, you may (and in my opinion, most likely do) have trigger points. Find a knowledgeable* Trigger Point therapist, and get an assessment.
There are other conditions that will cause jaw problems, and of course you should consult your dentist as part of your overall health care.
Note: Clients who suffer from extreme pain in the outer (external) ear, are usually suffering from TrPs in the temporalis, sternocleidomastoid, and masseter muscles. They typically seem to experience this external ear pain at night when they sleep - often being so severe it awakens them. My clients who have this condition, get relief when the causal TrPs are treated.
If you would like more information on the relationship between trigger points and temporomandibular joint dysfunction, contact me at my e-mail address.
We offer 1-day and 5-day Trigger Point C.E. workshops that address TMJD Issues.
Check our Workshop dates/locations
* someone who employs Trigger Point therapy (as their primary treatment protocol) on a daily basis, and has extensively studied the Travell & Simons manuals.