Soft Tissue Therapy

Soft tissue therapy is focused on relaxing any tight muscles. All conditions have a muscular component that should be addressed in order for you to heal. All of our practitioners will do some form of muscle work during your appointment. Techniques used include: muscle release techniques, trigger point therapy, cross frictions, instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy, and massage therapy.

 

Do you suffer from TMJ/jaw pain? Scroll down to learn more about how we can help! 

muscle release technique for back pain

Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ/Jaw Pain)

Do you suffer from jaw pain, clicking, locking, or trouble opening your mouth? These are just some of the signs of TMJ dysfunction. Jaw pain can be very irritating and can have a huge effect on your daily life. It is often a surprise to patients when they hear that their jaw pain can be treated. People have often heard from other practitioners that there is not much they can do beyond a mouth guard, which is why I am happy to help.

What is the TMJ?

The TMJ is a unique joint in the body. It is similar to a ball and socket joint, but it also has a small articular disc to allow for smooth movements. There is a condyle (ball) that moves in the fossa (socket), with a fibrocartilage disc rounded on both sides to act as a cushion. The TMJ should have a smooth rotational component, and also gliding movement as you open your mouth. There are surrounding muscles that help in the opening and closing movements of your jaw. To see even more details on how the TMJ moves, watch the video above.

TMJ dysfunction symptoms can include:

  • Jaw pain

  • Clicking or popping

  • Locking

  • Limited opening of your mouth

  • Pain while chewing

  • Clenching of your teeth

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Headache

  • Neck pain

 

What causes the pain? The main contributors are:

  • Tight muscles 

    • Opening muscles: lateral pterygoid (a portion of the lateral pterygoid muscle actually attaches onto the disc which can cause lots of issues) 

    • Closing muscles: temporalis, masseter, medial pterygoid

  • Disc - the small disc can become displaced causing a click when you open or close your mouth because the condyle no longer has a smooth surface to glide on

  • Trauma - an accident or injury can directly or indirectly have an impact on the TMJ

 

Assessment

An assessment will be done on your jaw and cervical spine (neck). Your range of motion will be assessed to see how your jaw moves. A visual sign of TMJ dysfunction can result in one of two common mouth opening patterns: a C-curve or an S-curve. Try looking in the mirror as you slowly open your mouth to see if your chin moves side to side in a ‘C’ or ‘S’ shape. Normally your chin should move straight down when you open your mouth. Muscles in the area will also be examined for tightness and tenderness.

Treatment

After an assessment, treatment can consist of: 

  • Soft tissue therapy to loosen up the tight muscles via:

    • Muscle release technique - manual approach to releasing muscle tension

    • Vibration therapy - using a massager to help relax tight muscles

  • Mobilizations of the jaw - gentle stretches to help increase range of motion

  • Light manipulation of the jaw if necessary

  • Treating any cervical spine (neck) issues found during the assessment

  • The frequency of treatment is patient-dependent but many people find relief from the first visit

If you aren’t sure what’s right for you or you have any questions, feel free to call or email the clinic so we can help.