It’s not a full-length evaluation like you would get if you came to see me in my office. But it seems that a lot of people with jaw pain don’t know how common it is — and how much jaw symptoms can vary from person to person.
Understanding the factors that contribute to jaw pain is not well-researched, but stress, posture, and habits are commonly involved.
We address these factors in my Self-Help for Jaw Pain online course, which is one option after taking the quiz.
Besides blogging here, I have had a private bodywork practice in Austin, Texas, USA, for years.
One area that I specialized in was relieving jaw pain. I developed a 5-session protocol (done over 4-6 weeks) that helped hundreds of people over the years. That work included working in people’s open mouths to release tension in the small, hard-to-access internal jaw muscles.
Well, COVID put an end to working in people’s open mouths in a small room, in a office suite that treats medically vulnerable people.
I thought about giving it up.
But when I thought about all I’d learned over the years about treating jaw pain, and how much pleasure I got when people felt the difference between tense jaw muscles and spacious ones, I looked for a way to continue to offer the revelation of a spacious jaw that so many patients experienced.
Plus, at this unusual time in history, stress levels are high, which translates to more clenching, grinding, tooth damage, and pain.
Current Austin stats: over 22,000 cases, 287 deaths. The number of daily positive cases has declined from over 700 in June to less than half that since late July.
Austin appears to be doing better than other large Texas cities.
I am still not doing bodywork.
That just doesn’t feel safe any more, especially given that more than half the sessions I gave included working inside the mouth.
That’s very risky in these times.
So…I’ve been working on creating an online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain. It will be a 5-class series offered on Zoom. I hope to get going in September. ]
The coolest thing about the class is that I don’t know that it’s ever been done before: a course that teaches people with pain and tension in their jaws to work on themselves, working inside their own mouths to release tension in the never-touched but overworked internal jaw muscles.
That is often a revelation, based on my experience of having given over 500 TMJ Relief sessions and consultations since 2018. (I started doing intra-oral sessions in 2013 but switched from paper to electronic records in 2018 and haven’t sorted my records from 2013 through 2017.)
The course will also address factors that predispose people to experience jaw pain: strain patterns, stress, and habits such as clenching and grinding.
Changing these habits will keep jaw pain from progressing.
I’ve worked on so many people (who’ve paid way more than this class costs) who have lived with jaw pain for a decade or longer.
This kind of suffering is optional.
Please help spread the word.
The first class will be limited to 8 students and will be offered at a low price, so I can learn and tweak It as needed.
I will post more here when I’m a bit further along in course development.
Anyone with jaw pain who’s interested can also check out my Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Relieving Jaw Pain/Dysfunction.
So far, since I began doing intraoral work for jaw issues in 2013, I’ve had several clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who had previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths to try to relieve their TMJ symptoms.
They had seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.
These clients told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.
These are small, hard to access muscles, and they are often key muscles to address to release jaw tension. It takes patience to get close to them and gently influence them to soften and lengthen.
You can see in the image below that there are two heads to the lateral pterygoid muscle. The upper head attaches to the disc (not labeled) between the temporal bone and mandible. Tension in this upper head pulling the disc anteriorly may create clicking or popping sounds on opening and/or closing the jaw.
It is important to address this early on to prevent irreparable damage. Even when there is damage to the disc or the ligament behind the joint (also not labeled), manual intraoral therapy can relieve tension.
The medial pterygoids are also major culprits.
It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. The external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play a role in jaw tension and pain (they can have trigger points and taut bands within the muscle).
I’ve learned through trial and error that one 75-minute session provides relief (sometimes tremendous relief, as in pain-free and a spacious feeling around the TMJs), but it will probably not last. That’s often the issue with bodywork: the soft tissues tend to revert toward their previous tension until we change that strain pattern through timely repetition.
For longer-lasting relief, 5 sessions in 4-6 weeks with support for habit change and self-care homework can retrain the jaw muscles to lengthen and relax.
I don’t work with insurance, but even people living on a budget who are determined to get gentle, lasting TMJ relief have found a way to pay my reasonable rates. To that end, I offer various ways to pay for it (all up front, pay for a single session before deciding to do the 5-series then pay the balance at the second session, or pay session by session). I offer a $50 discount for 5 sessions within 4-6 weeks to encourage people to get the 5 series.
If jaw tension or pain resulting from jaw tension is your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your TMJs (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), please seek a practitioner that works intraoral on the pterygoid muscles.
I work as gently as possible. Sometimes people feel therapeutic pain, as in “this hurts a little but it’s exactly what I need to relieve this tension”.
I never make any sudden moves, and you can signal me to get my hand out of your mouth (and I watch you for signs of discomfort).
My sessions start with full body alignment and progress toward the intra-oral work, ending with deeply relaxing craniosacral therapy to help your system integrate the changes.
My referral partners include dentists, chiropractors, doctors, a Rolfer, acupuncturists, craniosacral therapists, an Ayurveda practitioner, a Somatic Experience practitioner, and many massage therapists.
I make my living doing advanced integrative bodywork in Austin, Texas. I use four main techniques: craniosacral therapy, biodynamics, Zero Balancing, and orthopedic massage. As standalone treatments or integrated as needed, depending on my clients’ needs and preferences, these techniques can accomplish the following:
Since 2013, I’ve been developing my skills and expertise in offering relief from jaw tension, pain, and dysfunction. I’ve studied with Ryan Hallford, craniosacral therapist and teacher from Southlake, TX, completed multiple craniosacral courses from the Upledger Institute, and studied with John W. Corry of London, Ontario, long-time massage therapist and teacher specializing in jaw and vocal issues.
My intent when working on jaw issues is to create as little discomfort as possible. This means that any pain experienced should only be productive “hurts-so-good” pain. I check in frequently, and my sessions end with deep relaxation. I can also help you start changing the habits that contribute to jaw discomfort.
I offer several ways to be of service to people with jaw issues:
You may schedule a 75-minute TMJ Relief session, which can be right after the in-office consultation if that time slot is available on my online scheduling program.
You may decide to join my TMJ Relief Program, designed to create long-lasting relief by offering 5 sessions in 4-5 weeks, along with education, exercises, supplement recommendations, links to videos, and more. Many patients try one session and then decide to do the program.
You need to be in Austin to receive a session, unless you arrange my travel elsewhere — please call to discuss if interested. The Facebook group is open to people anywhere who are seeking to address their jaw issues. The educational units (click Units on left panel to view) available for the group include teaching relaxed resting mouth position, jaw exercises, self-massage, relaxation techniques, terminology, sleep positioning, and more.
If you’re interested in joining the group, click this link, answer the three questions, and you’re in!
I’ve been writing about TMJ pain and dysfunction on my Facebook business page and on my Austin, Texas, USA, private-practice website’s blog. Now I’m sharing an index of these posts here on my “big blog”.
If you have TMJ disorder and want to read any of those posts, here are the links.
I view TMJ issues as not just biomechanics, although it plays a role. This issue has social, emotional, historical, biological, cognitive, and spiritual aspects. I am very aware that some people, especially in the mainstream medical and dental fields, may believe it’s unnecessary or even laughable to provide information on so-called “woo-woo” or “fluffy” topics like essential oils, yoga, and the throat chakra for people who are suffering from jaw pain and dysfunction.
So let me share how I came to write this series of posts. Instead of just going to experts (and I have done that), I also asked women who suffer from this problem what helps, and they told me. And I believe them!
Since nine times more women than men experience severe, chronic TMJ issues, this is super valuable information to share.
I want the world to know that TMJ treatment is available beyond night guards, pain meds, and surgery, and there are so many options for self-care: massage, exercises, training yourself in new habits, reducing stress, improving posture, acupressure, nutrition, stretching, journaling, meditating, and more. I’m working on designing programs to evaluate and treat specific TMJ-related issues. More later!
If you bump into this limited and limiting attitude, please share this post, and please share in the comments your experiences and any other resources you have found helpful.
I have an advanced integrative bodywork practice in Austin, Texas. I focus on bodywork, where people typically stay clothed, as a way for receivers to experience positive transformation in how they experience themselves.
Some descriptors that clients have used after a session with me include:
feeling more organized and coherent
feeling lighter on my feet
being more grounded, more solid, in my body
moving with effortless ease
having better posture, feeling aligned, put together better
feeling expanded, less stuck, with more freedom
feeling more confident
My most transformative work has roots in Chinese medicine and osteopathy.
One of the treatments I’m most known for is TMJ Relief. I offer a free 30-minute consultation for those who are curious about what a well-trained and experienced massage therapist can do to relieve jaw pain and dysfunction. (Yes, I work on the internal jaw muscles and also use craniosacral therapy techniques.)
For more info or to book an appointment online, please check out my website.
September 2016 newsletter sent to my Austin area mailing list. To subscribe, send your email address to mareynolds27 at gmail dot com.
Free Zero Balancing? Discounted craniosacral therapy? Read on! From MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB. Thanks from my heart for making my work possible.
The view out the window in my new office.
Free Zero Balancing!
Everyone (well, almost) likes free bodywork, right? I’m just back from Zero Balancing II training in San Antonio, where I deepened my knowledge, got lots of supervised practice and feedback, and refined my technique.