What is TMJ? What does TMJ stand for?
The TMJ are your Temporomandibular joints – the joints of your jaw. On either side, your mandible (lower jawbone) connects with your temporal bone (lower-middle-side skull) via muscles, connective tissues, and soft pads. There are bigger, more superficial muscles that do the heavy chewing (or clenching) and smaller muscles that do the more intricate work of ensuring your jaw moves smoothly. Think about how your jaw can move forward and back, side to side, up and down, and all around – several muscles are working together to make that happen. If some of those muscles get overworked and overstressed, tension, pain, clicking, locking, and other dysfunctions can occur. TMJ massage in Toronto can help alleviate these symptoms.
What are symptoms of TMJ disorders / TMJ syndrome?
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders range from general tension and soreness around the sides of the jaw to more serious symptoms like clicking, locking, or popping of the jaw joint, pain or fullness in the ears, headaches, and stiffness in the movement of the jaw joint. There may also be some asymmetry in the movement of the jaw as it opens and closes, and that can lead to tension, pain, and further dysfunction. Massage therapy can play a valuable role in relieving these symptoms.
What is TMJ massage therapy treatment? Can massage therapy help TMJ pain?
Massage Therapy can work very well for the relief of jaw pain. TMJ therapy generally does not require a lot of time, and it can normally be built into a larger treatment. If symptoms are mild, like a general feeling of tension around the sides of the jaw, then a relaxing head-neck-shoulders treatment with focus on the TMJ often resolves the problem. If TMJ dysfunction symptoms are more severe, involving clicking or locking of the jaw, then an intra-oral treatment is indicated. With intra-oral therapy, your RMT in Toronto puts on gloves and works with the muscles inside your mouth at the jaw joint. This often relieves tension within a few minutes, so it is generally not necessary for intra-oral to be a prolonged process. If intra-oral work is needed, Liam normally recommends doing it at the beginning of a larger treatment so more relaxing/soothing massage can follow.
What causes TMJ dysfunction?
There are a range of causes, frequently clenching, stress, and excessive chewing (like gum or gummy foods/candies). TMJ dysfunction may also be caused by a direct blow to the jaw, prolonged suboptimal posture (head-forward posture), jaw misalignment, or dental or hormonal factors. If you choose to come for massage therapy, your RMT assesses you before treatment in order to formulate the most effective treatment and selfcare program for your specific needs.
How do I book TMJ massage therapy by an RMT near me in downtown Toronto?
You’ve come to the right place! Book a “Swedish/Deep Tissue” treatment and Liam will discuss your goals with you before treatment begins. If TMJ techniques serve your goals, then we’ll build them into your treatment.
What are some TMJ exercises I can do?
If you are experiencing mild TMJ discomfort, sometimes just going slowly through the normal and pain-free movements of the jaw can help alleviate – movements are forward and back, side to side, up and down, and a combination of these movements. You may also try applying gentle pressure to the muscles in the sides of your jaw while you go through these movements. For more specific exercises, Liam offers selfcare advice that is specific for your needs after each treatment.
Can pain in the TMJ lead to a TMJ headache or ear pain?
High tension in the muscles of the jaw can lead to trigger points – hyperactive “knots” of muscle tissue, and these can refer pain up into the sides of your skull and into your ear canal. And of course, you may feel pain directly in the muscles of the face and head that work to move your jaw. TMJ-focused massage therapy can be helpful for these symptoms.
How to cure TMJ dysfunction permanently
It depends on what is causing the dysfunction. TMJ dysfunction is often caused by tension due to clenching, and this is commonly the result of excessive stress / fight-or-flight hormones. If this is the cause, reducing stress, reducing intake of caffeine and other stimulants, adequately hydrating, and coming for regular massage treatments can go a long way towards relieving symptoms. If all this is not working, you may consider seeing your doctor or a TMJ specialist.
Can eating cause inflammation in the TMJ?
It’s not clear that the act of eating could cause inflammation, but excessive chewing (e.g. chewing gum or gummy foods) could lead to high muscle tension in your jaw muscles.
If inflammation is present in your TMJ area, it is possible that there are dietary causes. RMTs are not nutrition specialists, so you may consider seeing a Registered Dietitian or your doctor for dietary advice.
How long does TMJ dysfunction last?
It depends on the cause. If stress and diet are primary factors, reducing stress and keeping a healthy diet can go a long way to relieving symptoms in the short-term. TMJ-focused massage therapy may offer immediate relief and accompanying self-care can help extend that relief. If left untreated and the causal factors remain, TMJ dysfunction may continue indefinitely.
How can I find a TMJ specialist in Toronto?
You can conduct a google search or ask Liam for advice about how to find a good TMJ specialist. While Liam can offer general TMJ-focused treatment, if your symptoms are severe, it may be necessary to refer you to a therapist who specializes in TMJ treatment.
How can I get TMJ pain relief? Does TMJ dysfunction go away?
Massage Therapy can be a great way to help relieve common TMJ tension and pain. Sometimes massage therapy and a selfcare plan are all you need, and sometimes you may want to bring in a larger healthcare team including your doctor, dentist, and other practitioners to address the dysfunction.
Can TMJ disorders cause neck pain?
TMJ disorders don’t necessarily cause neck pain, but the two may have a common cause. For example, prolonged head-forward posture causes the muscle of the neck to work extra hard to support your head, and this posture also pulls your jaw back slightly. This in turn stresses the TMJ muscles.
Another frequent cause is stress that manifests in in the body as jaw-clenching and shoulder elevation – you may find that the whole region of your head, neck, and shoulders tense up together. In all these cases, massage therapy can help relieve tension and pain in the TMJ and neck, and self-care exercises can help prolong that relief.
Can TMJ disorders cause teeth to hurt?
If jaw clenching or grinding is happening, you may find that both the TMJ muscles and your teeth are hurting. If this is happening, it is generally best to check in with your dentist. There may be other dental factors to address, and you may want to have a night guard to protect your teeth from grinding down. Massage therapy may effectively relieve your TMJ muscle tension and that may relieve the tooth pain, but it’s still a good idea to check in with your dentist.
Is Craniosacral therapy good for TM disorders?
Craniosacral therapy aims to address the bones of the cranium down through to the sacrum. It can be a very soothing treatment, and so in that respect the muscles around the jaw may relax and thus symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction may be alleviated. Liam is not a Craniosacral Therapist, so you may want to contact a Craniosacral specialist for more information.