Massage Therapy for Temporomandibular Disorders


Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) are not particularly uncommon, affecting up to 15% of adults and 7% of adolescents.  Symptoms can include jaw pain, jaw stiffness or even locking and clicking of the jaw. Risk factors of developing TMDs include factors related to jaw function, such as functional overloading or specifics of a person’s bite, as well as psychosocial factors such as mental stress or work environment. TMDs can have a negative impact on mental health and can reduce quality of life.

Massage therapy can help people with TMDs relieve pain and improve jaw function.

Reducing Symptoms

Massage therapy can relieve the frequency and intensity of symptoms of TMDs. This includes a reduction in pain and tension that can be noticed immediately by some patients after an initial session, as well as improved range of motion in the jaw.

Manual therapies such as massage therapy, especially when combined with neck and jaw exercises can be even more effective in reducing jaw pain and can help improve jaw range of motion for people with temporomandibular disorders. Pain in the muscles used for chewing is common in people with temporomandibular joint disorders and a therapeutic exercise program that can be recommended by an RMT can help reduce the intensity of this sort of pain.

Don’t Forget the Head and Neck

TMDs are commonly associated with neck pain, which can affect more than half of people with TMDs.  Massage therapy especially when combined with exercise recommendations can help provide relief from neck pain. Even on its own, massage therapy can be beneficial to people with chronic neck pain specifically.

People with TMDs also often experience chronic headaches. Massage therapy, especially when combined with therapeutic exercise, has been recommended to help people with chronic headaches reduce the frequency and intensity of their headaches.

Improving Function

TMDs can negatively impact jaw function, which can make a variety of things more difficult, including chewing, yawning, swallowing, and talking.  Myofascial pain is a common symptom of TMD – it is often associated with the clenching of teeth, grinding and stress. In addition to pain, it can be associated with decreased ability to move the jaw comfortably, and massage therapy can re-establish the proper flexibility and muscular length as well as relieve pain.

TMDs are also associated with a lower quality of life especially due to the symptom of chronic pain and disruption in the ability to function. Massage therapy is a great option to provide some relief from chronic pain and can help people with TMDs improve their overall quality of life.

Temporomandibular Disorders can cause significant pain and have an impact on jaw function. Massage therapy can help people with TMDs find some pain relief and get back to their normal function.


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Tags: benefits of massage therapy, temporomandibular, tmd