Many people have problems with their temporomandibular joints (TMJ), such as:
- pain in the jaw, neck, ear, and/or head
- jaw tightness or stuckness
- limited ability to open the mouth
- clicking or popping noises or a grating feeling when opening and/or closing the jaw
TMJ issues are often accompanied by behaviors of clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, sometimes in one’s sleep. Eating and even talking may become difficult. There isn’t a clear cause, although stress or injury probably bear some responsibility.
Dentists often prescribe night guards, bite guards, or oral splints to prevent tooth damage from clenching or grinding. This may protect the teeth, but it doesn’t relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder/jaw pain.
From what I understand, the problem is usually neuromuscular in origin, which means massage can help.
I am announcing that after training with Ryan Hallford of the Craniosacral Resource Center in Southlake, TX, many hours of practice, and getting good results on my practice clients (for whom I am extremely grateful), I am offering a new specialty within my massage practice: craniosacral therapy for TMJ disorder/jaw pain.
It’s a bit more medical than the Ashiatsu and integrative massage sessions that I offer, and to that end, I am using a medical model with a 90-minute initial consultation and follow-up sessions as needed. You can check out my new craniosacral-only website and book sessions online.
Please contact me if you are interested in learning more, in getting a session, or in sharing my business card with your dentist or doctor.
What controlled studies are there please MaryAnn, showing that CST works? I can’t find anything positive about it!
Good question, Karen. I could not find any studies specifically on using craniosacral therapy for TMJ disorder — perhaps because none have been done. I did find studies showing that Swedish massage is helpful to those with TMJ disorder (probably because it relaxes, relieves pain, and shifts the nervous system into parasympathetic mode). Having received and given CST sessions for TMJD, I can definitely say that it does make a difference. So can my clients. Specifically, what I do is biomechanical craniosacral therapy combined with deep tissue and Swedish massage.
I can see how deep tissue and Swedish massage would really help relieve symptoms, but sorry, CST has no scientific backing at all, beyond the benefits of relaxing for an hour. Also splints do make a big difference to the TMJ and muscles by relieving the stress on them, and helping the jaw relax into a healthier position at night. As a dentist I’m keen to help my patients too with TMJ problems, but can’t see how such light pressure can help beyond placebo effect.
Actually, CST does have more lasting benefits, too numerous to mention all, but just to give one example, when people have PTSD and their nervous system is stuck for months/years in sympathetic mode, CST can get them unstuck so that they can experience the parasympathetic mode again and pendular between modes as needed. I don’t have a problem with splints. It’s just that people who have come to me for help have had splints or night/bite guards but still have a lot of jaw pain. Maybe they alone are enough for some people, but they wouldn’t be coming to see me, so I don’t really know. Also, I don’t just use light pressure when I do TMJ work. I work slowly and gently (for 90 minutes at a time, usually) and increase pressure very gradually, just enough to be effective, depending on where I’m touching them and for what purpose. (It’s often quite intense for the client, especially the first time.) Between the 1st session and the 4th, there’s a big difference. Better range of motion, less pain, more feeling of lightness and spaciousness around the jaw joint.