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  • Emily McGuire

Jaw Pain Relief: Massage Therapy for TMJ Dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction can cause recurring pain that can distract and detract from everyday life. This condition affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing symptoms like tightness, pain, clicking sounds, and even trouble opening your mouth. TMJ dysfunction can arise from stress, teeth grinding, jaw misalignment, or sometimes direct trauma. In the pursuit of pain relief, massage therapy can be a helpful tool to alleviate symptoms of TMJD and improve jaw function.  

woman with jaw pain from TMJ dysfunction

Understanding TMJ Dysfunction 

The temporomandibular joint serves as a hinge connecting your jawbone to the skull’s temporal bones, allowing for essential functions such as chewing, speaking, and yawning. When this joint becomes inflamed or experiences dysfunction, it can result in a cascade of uncomfortable symptoms that impact daily life. TMJ dysfunction often manifests as: 

  1. Pain and Tenderness - pain or tenderness in the jaw joint that may radiate to the face, neck, and shoulders. 

  2. Limited Range of Motion - stiffness and difficulty in fully opening or closing the mouth. 

  3. Clicking or Popping Sounds - audible clicking, popping, or grating noises that accompany jaw movement. 

  4. Muscle Tension - tightness and spasms in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint including near the ears and temples. 

  5. Headaches - tension headaches or migraines due to muscle tension and joint inflammation. 

Given the multifaceted nature of TMJ dysfunction, treatment approaches that address both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition are crucial for comprehensive relief. 


Benefits of Massage for TMJ Dysfunction 

Massage therapy is a non-invasive, drug-free approach to managing TMJ dysfunction by targeting the muscular and other soft tissue components involved in jaw movement and alleviating associated tension. Here’s how medical massage techniques can aid in restoring balance to the jaw: 

  1. Release of Muscle Tension: Massage therapists employ various techniques to gently manipulate the muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders. 

  2. Improved Range of Motion: Through gentle stretching and manipulation, massage therapy can enhance flexibility and mobility in the jaw joint. This can lead to a greater range of motion and reduced stiffness, allowing individuals to regain the ability to open and close their mouths comfortably. 

  3. Stress Reduction: Stress is a significant contributing factor to TMJ dysfunction, as it can lead to jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Massage therapy promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels, helping to break the cycle of muscle spasm and guarding.

  4. Enhanced Circulation: By increasing blood flow to the affected area, massage therapy facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and joints of the jaw. Improved circulation aids in tissue repair and reduces inflammation, promoting healing and alleviating pain. 


TMJ Treatment at Resolve Wellness 

At Resolve Wellness, our massage therapists have been specially trained to treat TMJ dysfunction. There are many modalities we can use to address and reduce your TMJ pain. Your massage therapist will consult with you to decide which modalities you want to pursue, ensuring that you are comfortable and informed during your massage. 

  1. Manual Massage – massage therapists will use hands-on techniques to mobilize and relax the muscles and joints of the jaw and neck. This could include gentle techniques like Swedish massage or more focused pressure through trigger point therapy. 

  2. IASTM – instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM, is a technique similar to gua sha. Massage therapists will use a small scraping tool to gently release adhesions and provide myofascial release – this helps to reduce tension and improve mobility. 

  3. Intra-Oral Massage – this modality option involves the massage therapist donning gloves and massaging the muscles and fascial restrictions from inside your mouth for a more thorough treatment of the area. 

Experience the Power of Medical Massage 

TMJ dysfunction can cast a shadow over your daily life. With the healing touch of medical massage therapy, relief is within reach. By addressing the muscular components contributing to jaw discomfort, we offer a natural and effective solution for managing TMJ-related symptoms. Take the first step towards a pain-free tomorrow by scheduling a TMJ massage with Resolve Wellness in San Diego! 



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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Resolve Wellness. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Reviewed by: Erynne Hill, MS, ATC, HHP, BFRC, a Nationally Certified Athletic Trainer and Massage Therapist who has been a part of the healthcare field since 2002. She is the Director of Resolve Wellness, specializing in manual lymphatic drainage and prenatal massage. Erynne has extensive knowledge of both massage and physiology, even receiving her Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from San Diego State University.


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