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Jaw Pain (TMJ): Massage and Acupuncture Effective for Relieving Jaw Pain

Acupuncture points used for jaw pain

Experiencing pain while enjoying your tasty burger?  Waking up with a sore jaw? Can’t open and close your mouth as comfortably as you could?  Does your jaw make clicking noises? You may have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome/pain.  Do you often get temple headaches? More and more, I see many people walk into the clinic with a history of some sort of TMJ issue.  Let’s look at the anatomy of the jaw and figure out what’s going on.

TMJ Anatomy

Imagine a door that hinges, but is also a sliding door.  That’s the way our jaw moves. Rather than a one dimensional movement of close and open, our jaws move slightly forward then backwards.

There are many muscles of different shapes and sizes that help the jaw move the way it does.  The main muscles we can look at are also part of mastication/chewing. These muscles are:

    • Masseter
    • Temporalis
    • Medial pterygoid
  • Lateral pterygoid

What to expect with massage treatments

If you are looking to avoid any invasive surgery, massage therapy is a great way to treat the signs and symptoms of pain and range of motion along with the secondary symptoms. Treatment options include: external and/or intra-oral massage, cupping, or acupuncture. 

There are two ways that massage therapists will approach the TMJ.  Firstly through external massage (treating the external muscles of the jaw/mastication).  Secondly, through intra-oral massage (treating the internal muscles of the jaw/mastication).  Addressing both the external and internal anatomy is very important when treating the jaw. Intra-oral massage may seem scary, but it is one of the most effective ways to treat TMJ issues.  Don’t worry, therapists will always perform this technique with sterile gloves and with proper pressure and communication with the client.

Other modalities of treatment can include local cupping to the external muscles with local acupuncture needling to the same muscles surrounding the jaw.  With acupuncture some of the local points will help reduce muscle tension and soreness as well as improve circulation to the area. Make sure to stay updated with our feed to get a sneak peak on what acupuncture would look like on your jaw!

There can be many other reasons for why your jaw might be hurting.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to inquire with us today. Contact us to schedule your free 15 min meet & greet. 

By: Jonathan Chang (RMT)


Mayo Clinic Staff, TMJ Disorders. Aug 16, 2017,

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