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Choose a practitioner for intra-oral TMJ therapy that works on the lateral pterygoids

So far I’ve had two clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who have previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths.

They’ve seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.

These two clients both told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.

These are small and hard to access muscles, and in my opinion (and my main TMJ teacher’s opinion), they are most often the key muscles to address to release jaw tension.

anatomy of the jaw muscles

It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. They do, and in roughly 10% of the TMD cases I’ve worked on so far, one of the medial pterygoids is the problem child.

The external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play a role in jaw tension but are never (that I’ve seen in 5 years) the biggest cause.

In other words, 90% of the time when people have jaw pain from muscle tension, the lateral pterygoids are the biggest culprit.

It’s not that these other intra-oral practitioners have nothing to offer. I’m not familiar with all of them, but chiropractors, Rolfers, and massage therapists have definitely helped me.

But if jaw tension and pain resulting from jaw tension is your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your TMJs (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), go to a practitioner that works on the lateral pterygoids.

Click here to book a free 30-minute consultation.

Other things that distinguish my work:

  • I work as gently as possible.
  • I never make any sudden moves.
  • My sessions start with full body alignment to get you relaxed and progress toward the intra-oral work at the end.
  • I offer you legal hemp oil to relieve anxiety, pain, and inflammation before working in your mouth. It’s not required, but some clients really like it.
  • I offer single TMJ Relief sessions as well as a TMJ Relief Program consisting of 5 sessions in 4 weeks for lasting change, along with education and support for habit change and self-care.
  • I created a Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Jaw Pain/Dysfunction, for people who want to work on their jaw issues.

I hope this information helps you at least ask informed questions when choosing a practitioner to relieve your jaw tension and pain.

Community Healing Circle January 4

I’ll be back at this month’s Community Healing Circle, offering Heavenly Head Massage sessions for the first time. This will be an abbreviated version rather than the 45-minute version I’ve been offering at my office.

This monthly event offers 25-minute sessions from a collective of wellness practitioners that offer Reiki, massage, acupuncture, sound healing, astrology, and more. Practitioners vary from month to month. I’ve missed the past few months, and it will be good to be back.

The sessions are offered for a suggested donation of $25-35. Proceeds support charitable causes in the Austin area.

Come see us Friday, January 4, from 7-10 pm, at Soma Vida at 2324 E. Cesar Chavez. There’s a large parking lot in back. Enter through the back door  – we’re usually right there. Sign up for the practitioner and time slot that you prefer. Sessions start every 30 minutes. There are some light refreshments offered.

Community Healing Circle is on Facebook, where you can RSVP your plan to attend.

Also, Community Healing Circle is on Meetup, where you can join, RSVP, and request a reminder for your online calendar.

 

Massage therapy for jaw pain

The January/February 2019 issue of Massage & Bodywork (magazine for massage therapists) includes the article “Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: Biting Off More Than We Can Chew”. It’s full of information about the anatomy, pathology, demographics, contributing factors, symptoms, and treatment options for TMJD. The author is Ruth Werner, who wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology.

The article mentions that many dental professionals enthusiastically recommend massage therapy as an early intervention for TMJ disorders, which are often accompanied by dysfunction elsewhere in the body — the shoulder girdle, pelvis, and feet, for example.   Regular massage therapy sessions can also help relieve pain and tension in the external jaw muscles.

The author states, “The [internal] pterygoid muscles require more specialized skill… Work inside the mouth carries some serious responsibilities… It’s not for beginners, and it’s not for dabbling. When things go wrong in this joint, problems can reverberate through the whole body… [Massage therapists working inside the mouth should] get advanced training…

“Intraoral massage may trigger unintended responses… Emotional release in response to work in and around the mouth is also a strong possibility. It is critical that massage therapists be mindful of their scope of practice and respectful of their clients’ processes if this happens. Massage therapists must be prepared to be present, nonjudgmental, and appropriately supportive for this kind of event. Once again, it’s not for dabblers. If you want to do this work, get appropriate training.”

After reading this, I feel good about what I do. Massage therapists trained to work inside the mouth mostly follow three paths of advanced training: craniosacral therapy (like me), neuromuscular therapy, and structural integration (aka Rolfing).

Also, not all craniosacral therapists or neuromuscular therapists work with the internal pterygoid muscles, so be sure to ask beforehand if that’s what you expect. That was part of my training with Ryan Hallford, not (so far) with the Upledger Institute.

Also, I’m thanking the Upledger Institute for my training in SomatoEmotional Release as well as past experience and research in trauma recovery.

I’m grateful to see that treatment for TMJ disorders by licensed massage therapists is getting media attention, and that TMJD itself is getting more recognition. The TMJ Association recently announced that the National Institutes of Health have agreed to do more research. It’s very much needed — practitioners know what we don’t know, and it’s a lot.

Thank you for a good year, my friends. Here’s to 2019!

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 8.05.54 AM

I woke up this morning at year’s end, reflecting on my work in 2018. It’s been a very good year for me in so many ways, and I want to share that with you.

  • I’ve really come into my own doing the advanced integrative bodywork that I love, and of course there’s always more to learn with each person who comes in.
  • I’ve done more sessions with more people than in previous years.
  • I started working with a business coach this year, and I am very grateful for that. I’ve learned a lot.
  • I’ve continued training in craniosacral therapy, biodynamics, and Zero Balancing, deepening and integrating those skills.
  • Treating TMJ tension and pain has become a satisfying mainstay of my practice, ranging from the free 30-minute consultation to the 5-sessions-in-4-weeks program to my Facebook group Word of Mouth, as well as seeking and working with referral partners.
  • My new Heavenly Head Massage is getting a lot of traction.
  • I feel settled and at home in my office in West Lake Hills and very happy to be working with the practitioners who share the suite.
  • I’ve enjoyed feeding the birds on the hillside outside my office as well as arranging rocks just so.

I don’t know what 2019 will deliver, of course, but I have some plans:

  • I’ll be taking a course in TMJ mastery from a teacher in Canada who’s been doing TMJ and vocal cord work for over 20 years. He hasn’t posted the dates and locations for his 2019 trainings yet, but trading some of Austin’s summer heat for some Canadian cool would be nice!
  • I’m taking another craniosacral therapy course from the Upledger Institute in May, SomatoEmotional Release 2 here in Austin, and I’m slowly making progress on getting certified in craniosacral therapy techniques. I’ll continue to attend study groups and work with a mentor and will serve as a teaching assistant for CST1 in Austin next August. I feel advanced Upledger courses calling me — the brain, cranial nerves, pediatrics, the inner physician, and more.
  • I’m starting to work on certification in Zero Balancing. I continue attend study groups, advancing skills days, and taking classes, and I hope to attend founder Fritz Smith’s 90th birthday in May near Palm Springs, CA.
  • I plan to make videos for my website, Facebook page, and Facebook group.
  • I don’t have any classes in mind yet for biodynamics in 2019, but I plan to continue working on a modeling project with a mentor and trading with fellow practitioners.

May 2019 bring you more of what you want in life — health, happiness, abundance, love, opportunity, connection, peace of mind, and satisfaction. Thank you for your presence in my life!

Season’s greetings and my holiday hours

I hope you’re enjoying the season. On one hand, there’s the pull of busy-ness — shopping and buying gifts, attending parties, travel, gathering with family and friends — and in contrast, becoming introspective as the days grow short and nights long — to reflect on the past year and examine your intentions for the new year, to stay in bed with a good book and a cup of tea on a cold winter’s day, to hibernate.

I hope you find the perfect balance for you. What is your light amidst the darkness?

Every year I pick an area of my life for special attention. In 2015, I spent the year learning new skills in Lauterstein-Conway’s Advanced Program for massage therapists. I spent 2016 integrating those skills into my practice as well as starting my biomechanical craniosacral therapy training with the Upledger Institute and continuing my Zero Balancing training.

In 2017, my focus was improving my skill with craniosacral biodynamics, serving as a teaching assistant and practicing a lot. 2018 has been focused on improving my business skills through networking and working with a business coach, as well as truly becoming an “advanced integrative bodyworker”.

And it’s not like the focus of past years is complete. Those choices continue to influence my practice.

I have a couple of things in mind so far to focus on during 2019: honing my writing skills and working on “right relationship,” however that shows up.

What would you like to say goodbye to when 2018 turns into 2019? What is your intention for the coming year?

I’m not going to Big Bend or taking a vipassana course this year. Instead, I’ll be around and available. I’ll be closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve because they fall on Mondays, and I take Mondays off.

My office will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day, and Tuesday, Jan 1, New Year’s Day. I’ll be open as usual Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 26-29, and reopen on Wednesday, January 2.

I hope you celebrate your life and your health and your community.