been diagnosed with “TMJ”, TMJ syndrome or TMJ disorder, or do you think you
could have problems with your jaw joints?
Did you know that most of these so called "TMJ symptoms" come from tense jaw muscles?
Maybe you don’t know that you have jaw joint problems or tense jaw or face muscles, but wonder where the following health issues come from?
“TMJ” is the abbreviation for tempromandibular joint, which is your jaw joint. The jaw joints are located around your ears. They are said to be the most complicated joints in the body because of their complex construction and therefore functionality.
take much to throw this complex equilibrium out of balance and cause the so
called TMJ syndrome or disorder. The jaw joints are so sensitive that they even
react to a poor posture.
are out of balance, misaligned jaw joints can in turn be responsible for
muscular pain elsewhere in your body.
This is because TMJ misalignment causes contractions (=trigger points) in your jaw and face muscles, which then can cause dysfunctional neck muscles. These in turn may impact your shoulder and hip muscles, till finally you feel pain all over your body - without connecting any of it to your TMJs.
There are many possible causes of tense or disbalanced jaw muscles, any of which may be responsible for the above-mentioned TMJ symptoms. Some of the most common causes are
a dentist visit with long periods of mouth opening
an underdeveloped or misaligned bite
biting on one side only for a long period of time
teeth grinding (bruxism)
wearing a splint, night/bite guard or braces
sleeping on your stomach
a car accident / whiplash
poor posture (can be caused by muscular or structural imbalances)
slouching and slumping
tight shoulder and neck muscles
a magnesium deficiency
a connective tissue disorder
Often a combination of these may lead to so-called "TMJ symptoms".
“Myofascial Pain” refers to pain that emanates from muscles and/or the surrounding connective tissue, the fascia. This is typically an overlooked and under-diagnosed cause of general body pain or stiffness, or pain that seems to come directly from your TMJ.
precise, this type of muscle pain comes from contracted muscle fibers, which
are medically known as “trigger points”.
Masseter muscle attached to the jaw joint
Once your jaw muscles are tight and have developed these trigger points, you might be aware of one or more of the following problems, many of which are not usually connected to tense muscles:
- difficulty swallowing
- tooth pain
- tongue pain or burning
- premature tooth contact
- throat pain
- cracking neck
Regardless of the possible causes of your TMJ problems, massage to your mouth, face, neck, shoulder and / or postural muscles may bring considerable relief to your TMJ symptoms.
Barbara, the massage therapist at ToThePoint Massage in Adelaide and author of this website, has had personal experience with TMJ problems, and can testify to the effectiveness of massage therapy.
She also holds a diploma in Myotherapies (a therapy which treats pain coming from trigger points in muscles and fascial constrictions).
Watch a video about the connections between TMJ symptoms and myofascial pain:
Read about our trigger point treatment.
Masseter image - ©Berichard (travail personnel d'après
Atlas de Bonamy 1854) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons