The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. Clenching and grinding of teeth are two of the major causes of TMJ pain. However, there are other factors that could be causing your jaw pain such as genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ dysfunction is temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments - medications, bite guards, massage and physical therapy.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder Include:
Pain in one or both of your jaw joints, your face or neck
Pain when you chew
Stiff jaw muscles
Difficulty with fitting your teeth together
Massage can help relieve some of these symptoms. When the jaw muscles are overly tight or imbalanced, manual therapy works well to help restore normal muscle tone and balance between the TMJ muscles. If the TMJ pain is caused by grinding or clenching your teeth, regular massage therapy that includes massaging the masseter facial muscles may prove to be beneficial. Relaxing the facial muscles may help to reduce the amount of clenching and grinding.
You can try self-massaging your jaw with a kneading type pressure – use your fingers to make a constant, circular motion against the joints and muscles that are most affected. The masseter muscles are in your lower jaw – these are directly behind your molars and sitting just below your cheekbone. Start the massage by touching the corner of your mouth, then working your fingers all along your jaw until you feel a flat plane of bone.
Massage the area by pressing gently with two or three fingers in a circular motion. Massaging like this helps to warm up the muscles and also stimulates the lymph function, flushing out toxins at the same time. Keep going with the jaw massage until you feel some relief from the pain. This would be a great daily routine to have in conjunction with physical therapy.