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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a syndrome of multiple pathologies affecting the masticatory muscles, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and related structures. It is estimated that TMD affects more than 25% of the general population.

Symptoms: jaw pain, joint sounds, impaired jaw movement, muscle and joint tenderness, headaches, ear-related symptoms, cervical spine disorders, depression, poor sleep quality, and low energy

Cause: TMD is most often viewed as the result of repetitive motion of the masticatory structures; however, it is also correlated with increased stress, jaw trauma, and clenching or grinding of the teeth.

Treatment

Registered Massage Therapists may help:

  • Reduce joint pain and tenderness
  • Decrease stress and depression
  • Increase oral opening and movement through exercises
  • Promote relaxation and better sleep
  • Reduce headaches

Research

Massage therapy and trigger points

Trigger points or “knots” along the jawline, neck, and head region are usually between two and ten millimeters in diameter. Trigger points that cause TMD are often from tension by localized, firm nodules that are tender. TMJ pain often intensifies when neck symptoms are aggravated. Massage therapists use techniques to apply pressure directly to the trigger points to reduce pain. (Wrights E., JADA. 2000 Sept 1(131):7-15.)

TMD and exercises from your registered massage therapist

Exercises given by your massage therapist are a way to improve your TMD. These may include: muscle stretching, gentle tension exercises, guided opening and closing movements, manual joint distraction and correction of body posture techniques. In addition to these exercises, deep breathing and relaxation muscle exercises may also be effective.
(Ebenbichler G, et.al., Journal of Oral Rehabilitation. 2001 Dec 20(28):1158-1164.)