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How Massage can help TMJ Dysfunction

What is TMJ Dysfunction?

TMJ Dysfunction is a condition that causes pain in the temporal mandibular joint (the jaw joint). There are a number of theories behind what causes dysfunction within this joint. One of the most common causes is stress. Whiplash, trauma, arthritis or having a crossbite (instead of a more typical over or underbite) can also adversely impact this joint. In severe cases TMJ dysfunction can make eating and sleeping difficult which can negatively impact your quality of life.

Symptoms may include:

  • pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, ear, neck and shoulders when you chew, speak or open your mouth wide

  • pain in one or both jaw joints

  • aching pain in or around ear

  • unable to open mouth very wide

  • jaws that get "stuck" or "locked" in the open-mouth or closed-mouth positions. Some can only sleep on one side because of this

  • Clicking, popping or grinding noise in the jaw joint when chewing or talking, this may or may not be painful

  • clenching or grinding of teeth - may cause tooth damage

  • sensitivity of teeth without the presence of an oral health disease

  • tinnitus

  • headaches

  • sinus pain

  • numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers

How can Massage help?

TMJ Massage is designed to specifically target the areas that TMJ Dysfunction affects on the head, face, neck, upper shoulders and intraorally (inside the mouth at the joint). Massage can help reduce tension and tightness in the muscle groups that TMJ impacts. As that tension and tightness starts to subside, the client feels better, and stress levels start to decrease.

What to expect during my TMJ Dysfunction Massage Treatment

  • An in-depth consultation to explain the procedure, to make sure people realize this involves massage inside the mouth. Also to discuss lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the pain i.e. stress, work/home/etc. (this is not a counseling session, just a way to raise awareness of things that may be contributing to pain). Medical or Dental history as appropriate.

  • You will be laying face up on the treatment table with top removed and covered by sheet and blanket.

  • Arnica Oil or Balm will be used if you wish. I usually use Flying Wild Arnica and Calendula balm ( or Pure Pro Ultra Arnica oil (, provided there are no allergies. Arnica can be especially effective in reducing joint and muscle discomfort and inflammation.

  • The massage sequence will start at the shoulders, flow up the neck, move up to the face and head then follow with the intraoral work. Finishing off with a relaxing sequence to bring it all together.

  • If you have been to me for other massages you will know I love my hot stones. I will incorporate the hot stone where appropriate on the neck/shoulders and face.

** Things to be aware of**

  • Intraoral massage will be done wearing nitrile gloves (no latex, no powder)

  • Intraoral massage can feel quite intense, but all massage is done within your pain range. If at any point during the massage you want me to stop, I will.

  • Intraoral massage is done in sets. 1-4 sets of 8-10 rocking motions on the tmj. The number will depend on your pain level starting the massage and pain levels during the massage.

  • Usually treatments are scheduled weekly for 3 weeks, allowing a progressive increase in tolerance and decrease in pain. After the 3 initial sessions, treatments are spaced out as needed.

When is TMJ massage NOT appropriate?

There are several conditions where TMJ massage my not be appropriate (If in doubt please check with your GP or Dentist before treatment). These include but are not limited to:

  • recent dental work

  • loose teeth

  • localized infections

  • Bell's palsy

  • cancer

  • acne vulgaris

  • conjunctivitis

  • herpes simplex (cold sores)

  • skin conditions

  • osteoporosis

  • neurological conditions

If you are suffering with TMJ pain or dysfunction, give my TMJ massage a try! If you have any questions please get in touch.


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