Intra-oral Massage for the Treatment of TMJ Disorder

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Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if god had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire When eating, speaking or even yawn
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For millions of sufferers, the popping, locking and grinding which come with disordered TMJ function have become a way of life, not to mention the connections between TMJD and headache pain. TMJ disorders rob us of the simplest pleasures in life, turning some of our greatest joys into chores, but it doesn't have to be this way.
The Temporomandibular Joint is unique in the human body. Not only is it required to dip, wobble and glide through more planes of motion than any other joint, but this movement relies upon a cartilaginous disk, embedded in the tendon of the Lateral Pterygoid muscle, and sandwiched within the joint capsule, to be precisely timed for optimal range of motion to occur. No other joint in the human body has such unique structure or demands for movement, and when this timing fails, we lose function.
So what can be done?
While massage to treat TMJ dysfunction may include many muscles of the face, neck, shoulders and back, there are four very important muscles which cross the TMJ specifically, two of which may be the most neglected muscles in the history of massage.
The Medial and Lateral Pterygoids
The reason the Medial and Lateral Pterygoids are left out of most massage is quite simple, because the only way to access these muscles is inside of the clients mouth. To reach them, your therapist with a gloved hand, slides one finger along the outside of your upper row of teeth into the muscles of the inner cheek. Most clients recognize these areas, describing them as "relevant" or "familiar" to their pain, and are relieved to finally have someone address them directly.
An opportunity for change
While intra-oral work may be a challenge to the popular concept of massage, let me assure you that the vast majority of clients find it to be incredibly relaxing, and great lengths are taken to ensure that the techniques feel both safe and effective to you the client.
For sufferers of TMJ pain nothing could be more relaxing than to talk, chew and sing effortlessly as they once were able with the lasting freedom even a few sessions can bring. With a return to balance and tone among these under served muscles, clients often experience not only an end to popping, clicking and grinding in the jaw, but many times a cessation of associated headache pain, and for some, relief from tinnitus a ringing in the ears."

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