What to know when seeking manual therapy for jaw tension/pain

So far, in five years of practice, I’ve had two 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 two clients both told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.

These are small, hard to access muscles, and in my opinion, they are most often the key muscles to address to release jaw tension.

anatomy of the jaw muscles

It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. They do, and in roughly 10% of the TMD cases I’ve worked on so far, one of the medial pterygoids is “the problem child” creating the most pain and dysfunction in the jaws.

The external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play a role in jaw tension but are never (that I’ve seen so far) the biggest contributors.

In other words, about 90% of the time when people have jaw pain from muscle tension, the lateral pterygoids are the main source.

It’s not that these other intra-oral practitioners have nothing to offer. Chiropractors, Rolfers, and massage therapists have definitely helped me, and I’m not familiar with the others. Also, some LVI-trained dentists do receive specific training in treating TMJ issues — and I’m sure they can help with more complex or advanced problems.

The only complaint I’ve heard about going to a physical therapist for TMJ relief is that they work aggressively, with little concern for patient comfort. I’m pretty sure that is because they are restricted by insurance companies to the amount of time allowed to address a given problem. If you can handle it, they probably will work on your lateral pterygoids.

You can always talk to them first about what to expect.

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.

I’ve learned through trial and error that one 75-minute session provides relief, but it may not be lasting. For longer-lasting relief, 5 sessions in 4 weeks with support for habit change and self-care help retrain the jaw muscles to lengthen and relax.

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 on the lateral pterygoids.

Click here to book a free 30-minute consultation. (My practice is in Austin, Texas.)

Things that distinguish my work:

  • I work as gently as possible. 
  • I never make any sudden moves. 
  • My sessions start with full body alignment to get you relaxed and progress toward the intra-oral work near the end. 
  • My referral partners include dentists, chiropractors, doctors, and massage therapists.

I started a Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Jaw Pain/Dysfunction, for people who want to work on their jaw issues. You can ask questions and learn more there.

I hope this information helps you ask informed questions when choosing a practitioner to relieve your jaw tension and pain. 

MTHFR: my micronutrient testing results

I previously wrote about learning that I have a homozygous (from both parents) mutation in my MTHFR C677T gene, and that I was going to a new doctor who wanted to have my blood tested to see which nutrients were actually getting into my cells.

Why is getting tested for nutrients important for people with this mutation? The mutation, which affects 40-70% of the population, impairs a cellular process called methylation, which can create deficiencies in nutrients. This can affect metabolic processes including cell repair, immunity, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter production, and fat processing and result in serious disease.

Health conditions that can be influenced by nutrient absorption include addiction, miscarriages, birth defects, autism, diabetes, mental illness including anxiety and depression, ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, thyroid disease, certain cancers, hypertension, inflammation, migraines, and many more. These health issues are common.

If you could take the right supplements and eat the right foods to recover from or prevent problems, would you do it? I would. When you have your health, life is definitely better. Continue reading

If you have State Farm insurance and are pro-choice, here’s something you should know

State Farm is a supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In fact, State Farm is deeply entwined in this extreme right-wing, pro-corporation, anti-choice, anti-women group, which provided the “model legislation” for the recent spate of anti-abortion bills as well as the “Stand Your Ground” laws as brought to public attention in the Travon Martin shooting tragedy.

According to Sourcewatch, which lists corporate supporters of ALEC (as well as corporations that have cut ties to ALEC), State Farm is not “just” a member but is extremely active in supporting ALEC’s radical, anti-consumer agenda.

I don’t want to change insurance companies. I’d like for State Farm to cut its ties with ALEC. I simply will not be handing over a hundred-plus dollars per month for car insurance to a company that supports ALEC.

The non-ALEC alternatives are Progressive Insurance and All-State. (GEICO is an ALEC member.)

Note: A Facebook friend recommended Texas State Low Cost Insurance, a brokerage that I’m also checking out. They provide homeowner insurance as well as auto coverage.

If you’d like to let State Farm hear your opinion about their political activities, you can go here to leave your comment.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve been a State Farm customer since 2000, and I live in Texas. I was very, very disappointed to find out that State Farm is a supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is writing anti-choice, anti-women legislation being enacted legislatures in several states, including Texas. I’m strongly considering changing companies.

A bunch of comments like that may change their tune. Let’s put the chill on the ALEC members whose products and services we use! We have a choice too. If they can influence legislation, we consumers can vote with our dollars as well as vote non-ALEC supporting politicians into office. (Did I mention I can now register voters?)

Also, just reminding y’all that the smartphone app/website Buycott has campaigns you can join that allow you to scan items with your phone that you’re about to buy to find out if they’re made by an ALEC supporter.