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

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.

anatomy of the jaw muscles

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.

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. 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 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. 

FB posts on TMJ disorder and remedies

I am writing 30 posts in 30 days on my Facebook business page on TMJ disorder (jaw pain and dysfunction). Please like and follow my page if you are interested in this topic, either as someone who suffers from it (or cares about someone who does) or provides treatment (or wants to learn about treatment, ahem, dentists and hygienists).

I’ve been offering TMJ Relief sessions since 2013. I was lucky to have learned how to do intra-oral work from Ryan Hallford of Southlake, Texas (near Fort Worth). Ryan is a craniosacral therapist who also teaches internationally, and he is the creator of The Craniosacral Podcast.

I’ve also studied craniosacral techniques with the Upledger Institute, including how to work with the hard palate.

None of my TMJ sessions would be complete without some massage techniques.

I am so attracted to doing TMJ work because it so often makes a dramatic difference. One session will help your jaw move with more ease and feel more spacious. I recommend three sessions (a week to 10 days apart if possible) for lasting results.

I often never hear from people again after they’ve received three sessions. Others come back for a session only after experiencing prolonged dental work or stress. If you are interested in booking a session with me, here’s my website with online booking.

I am always interested in learning more about what works, and I look forward to researching and connecting in this area.

 

 

TMJD treatment, dentists, and massage

I was contacted by a “digital media intern” who was working for a Houston office, MedCenter TMJ, asking me if I would write a blog post with links to that company. Here goes! (I don’t always or even often do this, by the way.)

Houston dentists offer advanced treatment for TMJD disorder

First of all, I am impressed that a couple of highly trained and educated dentists in Houston are specializing in treating TMJ disorder.

  • Dr. Auvenshine is a DDS and a PhD who has taught at the college level and founded the TMJ and Facial Pain Clinic at Louisiana State University. He’s been practicing in Houston since 1978 specializing in those issues. He currently teaches at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the VA Hospital in Houston, and he gives lectures around the world. He is working with the American Dental Association to get TMJD treatment recognized as a specialty. Here’s his page, with a video: http://www.medcentertmj.com/about-us/dr-auvenshine/
  • Dr. Nathan Pettit is a summa cum laude DDM with advanced training. He too is devoted to craniomandibular and TMJ disorders. He studied with Dr. Auvenshine for three years before joining his practice. Here’s his page with a video: http://www.medcentertmj.com/about-us/dr-pettit/

Continue reading

TMJ massage relieves jaw issues and renews the spirit

A client came to me a couple of weeks ago for 90 minutes of “Whatever Works”. During the session, she learned that I offer TMJ* care sessions and asked a lot of questions about it. She had not known previously that a trained, skilled bodyworker could relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder – jaw pain and tightness, clenching, grinding, popping, clicking, locking, etc.

I explained to her a bit about the anatomy of the jaw, my TMJ Care package, and the outcomes of my TMJ clients. Since others are likely unaware that trained massage therapists can offer TMJ relief, I’ll share that info here. Continue reading

Announcing a new massage modality: Craniosacral therapy for jaw problems

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. Continue reading

Referrals for alternative health care providers

I’ve received different types of alternative health care, and I’d like to list some of my favorite practitioners here on my blog. I will update this list from time to time.

First of all, for do-it-yourself pain relief, relaxation, and massage, get yourself some arnica, some epsom salts, and a foam roller. I also recommend meditation. They cost little to nothing and make a difference.

If you’d like to have a floatation tank experience, try Zen Blend, in far south Austin. I’ve been three times now, and each time I’ve been more relaxed and present. The epsom salt in the water plus silence and darkness all contribute to the relaxing effect.

If you’d like to improve how your body moves, either for a sport or better workouts or the movements of everyday life, I recommend Matt Fuhrmann of Tao Health & Fitness (on Facebook) for functional movement screening and classes. It’s what Tim Ferriss (in The Four-Hour Body) calls “pre-hab”. In other words, injury prevention. Matt also offers classes for kids.

For biodynamic craniosacral work, I recommend Nina Davis. I also recommend David Harel, who specializes in TMJ disorder Gtreatments. In the DFW metroplex, see Ryan Hallford for treatment. He also teaches craniosacral work. (Note: I am studying craniosacral therapy from Ryan after receiving it from Nina and being mentored by David.)

For classical chiropractic, I recommend Active Life Chiropractic, which offers a wide range of services including Graston and “the activator”. I’ve seen both Dr. Cynthia Schade (the owner) and Dr. Cynthia Lara.

For upper cervical chiropractic (first cervical vertebrae and cranium), I recommend Back N Balance. If through head trauma or emotional stress your head is not sitting atop your spine in a balanced manner, check them out. It unwound my spine from scoliosis. I saw Dr. Shelley Lorenzen.

For applied kinesiology chiropractic, I recommend Austin Holistic Health. It’s another form of unwinding from dysfunctional neuromuscular patterns. I saw Dr. Chandler Collins.

For integrative healing, I recommend Fran Bell at Austin Holistic Health.

For acupuncture on a budget, I recommend South Austin Community Acupuncture (sliding scale) and the student clinic at AOMA ($35 per treatment, supervised by professors, in both north and south Austin).

I have personal experience with each of these practitioners and clinics, and I know how valuable good word-of-mouth can be. I hope this helps you find healing.