Did you know that massage therapy is used to help folks with TMJD? Slight muscle soreness around the jaw joint quickly goes away for most people. But according to the National Institutes for Health, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJD) can be a painful condition during chewing or even yawning for roughly 5 to 12 percent of the population. TMJD is only second to low back pain in frequently occurring chronic musculoskeletal conditions. This article will give a brief overview about TMJD and how massage therapy may be helpful for treatment of this condition in conjunction with other healthcare providers.
TMJD are a set of problems which affect the jaw joint and the muscles and other soft tissues surrounding the joint. This joint is made up of two bones: the temporal bone, which is part of your skull, and the mandible or jaw bone. You can locate this joint by placing your fingers just in front of your ear. Other soft tissue structures include muscles and a disc, or shock absorber that is located between the jaw bones. The masseter muscle is noted as the strongest muscle in the body and is responsible for closing or clenching the jaw. Another main muscle which opens the jaw is the temporalis muscle. Other muscles located in the jaw allow for gliding movement from side to side.
Most researchers agree that TMJD falls into three main categories:
· Discomfort or pain in the jaw soft tissue, or myofascial pain
· Misalignment of the jaw joint
· Arthritis that actually affects the jaw joint itself
TMJD is diagnosed by dentists, chiropractors or other physicians. Massage therapists can be an important part of your TMJD healthcare team, treating the jaw soft tissue hypertonicity or tightness. Massage therapists may be specifically trained in the treatment of TMJD, which involves treatment of the upper back, neck jaw and skull muscles. A portion of the treatment may require intra-oral care, where the massage therapist wears a non-latex glove to relax the tight jaw muscles inside the mouth. This intra-oral treatment can be done by the massage therapist when their specific state practice act permits, such as Tennessee, which requires consent of the client. Your massage therapist will also instruct you in exercises to keep the increased jaw range of movement you may have gained from treatment.