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Headaches? Earaches? Facial, Neck or Upper Shoulder Pain? Your Jaw May Hold the Key

The fancy name for your jaw joint is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and a problem with the jaw joint and surrounding muscles is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJD). By some estimates, anywhere from 10 to 45 million Americans suffer from TMD. Women, particularly women of childbearing age, are twice as likely to suffer than men.


TMD can be caused by direct trauma to the jaw or to surrounding areas (such as impact to the ear or head). It can also be brought on by stress, such as chronic clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth while sleeping.


Common symptoms of TMD include:  

  • headaches
  • facial pain
  • neck and upper should muscle pain
  • toothaches
  • jaw pain when chewing, biting or yawning
  • clicking, popping or grinding in the jaw joint
  • dizziness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • ear aches
  • ear congestion or ringing in the ears

While you should consult your dentist for mouth and jaw-related pain and dysfunction, know that massage therapy may be an effective adjunct to your care. Treating the muscles of the jaw - both externally and sometimes intraorally - can provide profound relief. Similarly, for many clients whose chief complaint is neck and shoulder pain, work on the jaw, especially the masseter and temporalis, can often be key in providing significant and longer-term relief.

Reference: Compendium Magazine 2/14. Martin, Charles.

"Dental Headache Care and Assessing and Treating Dental Force-Related Problems."


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