Jaw Pain & Clenching: Identifying TMJ Dysfunction


TMJ dysfunction can cause pain or tenderness in your jaw, face, neck and shoulders, and in and around the ear. Because TMJ dysfunction is often caused by muscular imbalance or tight muscles, massage therapy can be one of the most effective treatments for it.

Location: TMJ Jaw Pain Lateral View
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint between the skull and the mandible or jaw bone. It allows the jaw to open and close as well as move side to side. TMJ Dysfunction occurs when the articular disc of the TMJ is out of phase with the movement of the jawbone. This is generally due to muscular imbalance in the muscles that control the movement of the jaw.

Symptoms:
  • Pain and soreness around jaw
  • Clicking or locking of the jaw
  • Clenching or grinding teeth particularly while asleep
  • Radiating pain into the jaw, head or neck (headaches)
Compensation for the pain often leads to additional complications. Tensing of the neck and temporalis muscle can lead to headaches. Often people change their chewing motion when chewing becomes painful. This can lead to additional jaw pain or exacerbation of the joints’ malfunction. TMJ2

Causes:
  • Trauma such as whiplash or a heavy blow to the neck or head
  • Postural Distortion and muscular compensation in the pelvis and spine
  • Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
  • Neck tension due to posture, activity, or poor ergonomics
  • Dental work– prolonged fatigue from dental procedures
  • Pain and compensation from untreated dental problems

Treatment:
A Massage Specialists practitioner (call us for a recommendation on a TMJ specialist) will evaluate your injury and provide a comprehensive treatment plan depending on the severity of your injury. Because TMJ dysfunction has a large contribution from soft tissue, massage therapy is one of the most effective means of treating and managing it. Healing can also be aided with diligent self-care. A Massage Specialists practitioner will advise you on appropriate stretches, activity modification, ergonomics, dental referral, self-massage, and alternative exercises.