Jaw Pain, TMJ

I received a message on one of the forums that I moderate that made me think of a client I had when I was back in NY, several years ago. The message told of a person who has horrible jaw pain that started from simply yawning. His jaw immediately shifted over to the opposite side, nerve pain shot into his head, he was sick to his stomach from the pain, and it’s been going on for months at this point. How terrible!

The doctors have tried everything, MRI, URI, x-rays, bite plate (helped for a few days and then made it worse), massage, etc., etc. Not only is he not getting better, it’s getting worse.

This reminded me of a young woman (32 YO) who went to see the doctor I worked with in NY. Fortunately for her she had forgotten to go to her family physician and Dr. Cohen was open on Sunday as an Urgent Care facility, and fortunately for her I had stopped by just to visit. Her oral surgeon planned on severing the muscle of her jaw and needed an MD to approve her medical condition prior to the surgery.

When Dr. Cohen felt the masseter muscle of her jaw (put your fingers on your cheeks by your back teeth, clench your teeth and you’ll feel the muscle pop out) he said it felt like she was a squirrel packing nuts for the winter. He refused to sign her form until she saw me because this surgery would have meant that for the rest of her life her jaw would hang open, meaning she would be drooling all of the time. That would have truly been a nightmare!

Your masseter muscle is the one that tightens every time you chew, and if you chew gum it is repetitively strained (she did) or clench your teeth while you sleep (she did that too) it is held contracted for long periods at a time, causing it to shorten. She was unable to open her jaw and the oral surgeon was afraid that if she became sick to her stomach that she would choke on the vomit. I understand his reasoning, but he never even considered releasing the tension in the muscle by any means other than surgery.

It took only 15 minutes to release the tension, and then I taught her how to do the self-treatment. At the end of our brief session I had her pressing on the muscle while she opened her mouth as wide as possible, and then I had her release the press on the muscle and just open and close her mouth. She did it with ease and without any pain.

She started to cry, she had come so close to the surgery that would have had a lifetime of anguish, and it only took 15 minutes to resolve it.

I haven’t answered the forum posting yet, but I will today and I hope this man will make the decision that it’s a wise idea to learn how to self-treat his masseter muscle before someone decides he needs surgery to release his jaw.

Self-treatment is ALWAYS a great first-option when a situation isn’t life-threatening.

Wishing you well,


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