Jaw pain and TMJ: Initial Treatment

Jaw pain, TMJ pain / Monday, August 24th, 2009

This is a series on jaw pain and TMJ pain. If you missed the case study about Rodney D., go back to part 1.

After discovering that Rodney had a difference in the length of his legs, I understood why his jaw and shoulder were troublesome. That perpetuating factor, if left uncorrected, would have prevented his long term recovery. With the heel lift and treatment with Neuromuscular Therapy in my Metro West clinic, his shoulder had already improved greatly, so now it was time to correct the jaw so he could eat his gourmet food with pleasure!

Initial treatment: Work began on those muscles in the jaw that could be treated from the outside. The muscles treated first were the masseter, pterygoids, temporalis and the five attaching to the styloid and mastoid processes. I taught him how to self-treat the lateral pterygoid. This little darling causes most TMJ pain. (For information on the muscles, go back to Understanding the Muscles.)

I referred him to a doctor who is a master of TMJ correction for an evaluation and a night guard. He was taught to relax his tongue into the floor of the mouth to relax the jaw, neck and shoulders. Watching his head position was mentioned. The importance of reducing stress, a strong perpetuating factor, was discussed and plans made to take the Mindfulness (MBSR) course. One simple stretch was taught that I learned from an Alexander technician and use for my own TMJ, adapted to the Active Isolated Stretching protocol. For Rodney, Neuromuscular Therapy was successful in treating the jaw pain, but controlling perpetuating factors would become the key to staying comfortable.

The details of subsequent treatments will follow along with an explanation (with illustrations) of the muscles and some information about Trigger Points that refer to the jaw.