TMD (temporomandibular disorder or dysfunction) is commonly called TMJ, named for the temporomandibular joint that is affected. Such disorders are characterized by pain in the jaw joint and surrounding areas as well as limitations in jaw movement.
It is estimated that 65-85% of Americans suffer from TMJ problems. Symptoms can include pain and muscle spasms in the head, mandible, neck and shoulder muscles as well as headaches, earaches, clicking or popping or deviations when the mandible moves, limited range of motion and dizziness. One or both joints may be involved and depending on severity, can affect a person’s ability to eat, chew, swallow, speak, etc.
Causes of TMJ dysfunction include arthritis, whiplash, bruxism, malocclusion, anxiety, stress, trigger points, postural dysfunction, infections and dental procedures among others. Treatments for TMD include splint therapy, analgesics, surgery, stress management, acupuncture, trigger point therapy, hydrotherapy, cryotherapy and massage therapy. Self care such as a diet of soft foods, specific stretches and exercises for the jaw and self massage techniques are extremely beneficial in the treatment of symptoms.
Many people who experience occasional discomfort in the jaw musculature and TMJ find their symptoms improve without undergoing treatment. Often the problem will go away on its own. If the pain is severe or lasts more than a few weeks, however, it may be best to seek treatment.
Massage therapy is quite effective in helping to improve TMD symptoms. Techniques such as neuromuscular therapy, which is the application of ischemic pressure to trigger points in the jaw, can help relieve muscle spasms and pain. Swedish techniques initiate the relaxation response and can have a significant impact on reducing tension held in the jaw, head, neck, and shoulders. Intra-oral treatment is an ideal modality in treating the musculature inside the mouth. Using medical gloves, the therapist massages intricate muscles of the mandible and maxilla in order to increase range of motion and decrease spasms and pain.
At Center for Massage Therapy, our therapists can provide specific treatment for TMD or integrate it into your massage session. If you or someone you know suffers from TMD, you can seek relief by scheduling an appointment in our clinic. Call us at 303-777-1151 and be sure to let us know you’re interested in TMJ treatment so we can provide you with the best care.