Massage for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

Massage for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

What Causes TMD?

We don’t know what causes TMD, but symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Injury to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck can lead to TMD. Other issues that can lead to TMD are things like, grinding or clenching your teeth, slipping of the disc between the ball and socket of the TMJ, arthritis, or stress.

 What Are the Symptoms?

TMD often causes severe pain and discomfort than can be temporary or last many years and it can affect one or both sides of your face.

 Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear

  • Problems when you try to open your mouth wide

  • Jaws that get "stuck" or "locked" open or closed

  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint

  • A tired feeling in your face

  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite

  • Swelling on the side of your face

  • You may also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).


How does massage help with TMD?

Massage can be a very useful technique to help with TMD. There are several different ways this can happen. You can massage the neck and shoulders, around the ears, the muscles of the face, and the muscles of the jaw, both on the outside and intra-orally (massaging inside the mouth with gloved hands). There are several different techniques that can also be used.

Neuromuscular Therapy – The application of ischemic pressure to trigger points in the jaw muscles (temporalis, masseter, lateral pterygoid, and medial pterygoid) can help relieve their spasms.

Cranial-Sacral Therapy – In addition to activating the classic stillpoint, adjustments to the mastoid, temporal, zygomatic and sphenoid bones can provide enormous TMD relief.

Post-Isometric Relaxation – Using isometric contraction to actively stretch tensed muscle fibers, adding minimal resistance for a further stretch, followed by relaxation allows for enhanced relief of the targeted muscle. This technique can restore the range of motion that typically regresses with TMD.

Acupressure – Massaging the meridians, both distally and locally, that wind around the jaw can bring increased circulation and thus relief to TMJ. The primary meridians to the jaw are Gallbladder, Stomach, Large Intestine and Triple Warmer.

Swedish Massage – The relaxation that results from a full-body Swedish massage should not be underestimated. Since stress is a major contributor to TMD, initiation of the relaxation response can have a significant impact in reducing tension held in the jaw.


Massage can be an integral part of your TMD treatment plan and can provide amazing relief. Ask about scheduling a TMD massage today.