Treating TMJ issues: what various professions do to help

I’m going to write about what various healing professions do to treat TMJ issues to help you be good consumers and know what to expect in terms of results. I am a massage therapist who specializes in TMJ work, including intra-oral (inside the mouth) work, in which I’ve had special training.

I want to say up front that most massage therapists do not work inside the mouth, which is where the jaw muscles most likely to be causing TMJ pain are located. Most massage therapists have the skills to release tension in the external jaw and neck muscles. Maybe that’s all you need, if your jaw pain isn’t severe and it comes and goes. You will feel better after such sessions.

But if you are really suffering from chronic or severe jaw pain and dysfunction, you probably want a lot more than that. You will greatly benefit from intra-oral work, which takes special training and experience to do effectively.

Do not hesitate to ask whether a therapist you are considering working with is trained in releasing tension in the internal jaw muscles and uses gloves or finger cots.

Whole-body work can also help, when the TMJ pain is related to your posture (for instance, head forward posture).

These are the major results that help with TMJ symptoms, along with the professional training that can provide them:

  • reducing stress (massage therapist, acupuncturist, yoga teacher, meditation teacher)
  • reducing tension in your external jaw muscles (massage therapist)
  • releasing trigger points in your external jaw muscles (any kind of therapist with trigger point release training)
  • releasing your neck tension (massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor)
  • getting your pelvis aligned and balanced (massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor)
  • preventing your teeth from cracking due to bruxism (dentist)
  • reducing tension in your internal jaw muscles (massage therapist with special training, physical therapist with special training, Rolfer)
  • getting craniosacral therapy to restore alignment in the external cranial bones (craniosacral therapist)
  • getting craniosacral therapy to restore alignment in the internal cranial bones (craniosacral therapist)
  • repairing a torn or perforated articular disk (oral surgeon — get reviews first)
  • getting whole-body therapy to help with alignment and release strain patterns (craniosacral therapist, Rolfer, Zero Balancer, yoga teacher, yoga therapist)

This is a brief and imperfect overview to help you get the results you want, and there are many fine points not mentioned here.

 

What people say after a Zero Balancing session

I just finished my fourth class in Zero Balancing, and so I am eligible to apply for certification.

The part I love most about giving my clients a Zero Balancing session comes after the fully-clothed bodywork has concluded, when the receiver slowly moves from supine on my massage table to sidelying to seated to standing, taking a pause after each movement, and finally takes a few steps around my office.

I ask, “What are you noticing?”

People pay exquisite attention to their own sensations, and I collect their descriptions, eagerly anticipating what they will say. Often they tell me with a sense of revelation that they feel:

Taller.

Lighter.

In less pain.

Less stress.

Having better posture.

Having better movement.

Expanded.

More aligned.

Looser in the tight places.

Stretched.

Their depression has gone to neutral.

More solid on the ground.

Less timid.

Not stuck.

More in their body.

More grounded.

Breathing in their back too.

In touch with their heaviness.

Zero Balancing works on both structure and energy, and you can definitely see that in these descriptions. Of course, structure and energy affect each other.

Zero Balancing is the most transformative type of bodywork I’ve received or given for the amount of time spent on the table, which is usually 30-45 minutes. The changes are simply not on the same level as, “Oh, my shoulders don’t feel so tight” or “My low back pain is gone.”

Those things happen, and ZB recipients experience themselves differently, more as whole-body energetic free beings. Many people rarely experience themselves as such. Working with the deepest layer, the bones, frees up so much.

It’s the modality that helps people experience complete embodiment in a positive way, as if they are healthy and well, and the universe is a kind and friendly place to be. No wonder it’s becoming a sought-after experience!

Maybe it’s more spiritual for one person and more grounding for another. It seems to be a little bit different for everyone, and different each time. And that makes sense because our needs and awareness all vary.

Who would not want to live deeply in and from their body when it feels like this?