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Trigger Point Therapy - Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome

Posted by Arnold Fomo on


 Treating Temporalis Trigger Points - Stuart Hinds



Trigger point therapy can often help reduce the severity and chronicity of the pain associated with TMJ syndrome


Treating TMJ Disorders CE Course

Treating TMJD

This debilitating condition is characterised by pain, stiffness, and aching in the jaw muscles, especially in the region of the ear.

It may be primary, as the result of anomalous jaw or bite formation, such as malocclusion or a variation in jaw joint anatomy.

It can also be secondary to a variety of conditions, such as tooth clenching or grinding.

It is always worth getting a proper opinion and diagnosis from a qualified dental practitioner.

However, if you are suffering from TMJ syndrome, take comfort in knowing that trigger point therapy treatments can often help reduce the severity and chronicity of the pain.



Tempralis Trigger Points

Temporalis - Common Trigger Point Sites



TMJ - Common Symptoms and Diagnosis

Trigger points are commonly found in the muscles that move and stabilise the TMJ. People often clench the jaw muscles in response to stress, anxiety, and/ or tension.

TMJ syndrome can be defined as “chronic pain and/or dysfunction of the TMJ and its muscles.”

The most commonly accepted theory is that there is a “temporary anterior displacement (of the joint) with or without reduction”.

This leads to repetitive micro- and macrotrauma of muscles, and chronic inflammation of the joint membranes.

Trigger points often develop in the muscles which support and operate the joint. The main symptoms are facial pain, especially around the ear, popping sounds, and headaches, but may include nausea and tinnitus.

Patients are often driven to distraction by the pain, and have been known to seek exotic and expensive remedies.

In our experience, trigger point release can be a very useful therapeutic intervention along with identifying and addressing any underlying causes.

TMJ syndrome is multifactorial, and the following list covers some of the common differential diagnostic criteria: 

  • “Under,” “over,” lateral bite, or malocclusion
  • Dislocation on yawning, popping, and/or crepitus
  • Ear pain
  • Cervical spine disorders
  • Type/shape of synovial joint; several anatomical variations occur
  • Gum chewing
  • Masticating food unilaterally
  • Chronic dental problems
  • Problems with wisdom teeth
  • Tooth grinding; bruxism
  • Clenching in response to stress/anxiety • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Arthritis (osteo- and rheumatoid)
  • Dentures

TMJ - Trigger Point Therapy

The primary muscles directly associated with the TMJ are the temporalis, masseter, and pterygoideus lateralis and medialis. The secondary muscles are the mylohyoid and the anterior digastricus.

Chronic trigger points in any of these muscles may lead to an increase in muscular stiffness, fatigue, and dysfunction.

Symptoms may be unilateral and/or bilateral, and are rarely seen in the under-20 age group.

Further, satellite trigger points may often be located in the upper trapezius, upper semispinalis capitis, suboccipitalis, and SCM.

Remember, not all therapists practice trigger point therapy, and not all will be familiar with the treatment of TMJ.

The good news is that many are, and many do .... so have a chat with your therapist about trigger points, and they should be able to tell you exactly what it is that they can do for you!

TMJ - Self Help

There are many self-help products marketed for TMJ syndrome. Beware as few of these products can claim any legitimacy and some may even make the symptoms worse.

We do recommend the MyoFree Solution for the treatment of TMJ , jaw, headache and atypical face pain.

The MyoFree kit consists of an easy-to-use massage tool, and a 20 minute DVD. Click here for information and video



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Established in the United Kingdom in 1999, we provide course and distance learning material for therapists and other healthcare professionals in over 40 countries.

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We are honored to have received the 2017 "Excellence in Education" Award from the National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists.

Since 1999 Niel Asher Education has won numerous awards for education and in particular for education and services provided in the field of trigger point therapy.

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Niel Asher Healthcare course instructors have won a host of prestigious awards including 2 lifetime achievement honorees - Stuart Hinds, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, AAMT, 2015, and Dr. Jonathan Kuttner, MD, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, NAMTPT, 2014.

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In addition to national accreditation for continued education, each course that we offer includes "NAT Learning Credits". By taking and completing courses you can accumulate NAT credits to qualify for NAT certification.

There are currently 3 levels of NAT certification. Certifying NAT is a valuable way to show your clients that you take continued education seriously, and to promote your skills and qualifications.

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NAT courses are accredited for continuing education by over 30 professional associations in North America, United Kingdom, Australia, and European Union countries. These include The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy Board of California, AAFA, National Certification Board for Manual Therapists and Bodyworkers, Sports Therapy Institute, and Myotherapy Australia.

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Since 1999 the Niel Asher Technique for treating trigger points has been adopted by over 100,000 therapists worldwide, and has been applied to the treatment of a number of common musculoskeletal injuries.

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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 





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