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Trigger Point Therapy - Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD or/ TMJD)

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TMJ Disorders - Anatomy Overview


TMJ Disorders


It is estimated that 20–30% of the adult population will have TMJ problems at some point in their life

TMJD disorder is sometimes called the ‘Great Impostor’ because of the multiplicity of symptoms.

Pain, stiffness, clicking, clunking or popping sounds, and aching in the jaw muscles characterize this debilitating problem.

Classically the headache is strongly felt in the region of the ear.

Types of TMJD's

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD's) are problems affecting the joint between the lower jaw and base of the skull.

There are two temporomandibular joints (TMJ's), one each side of the jaw, that allow the mouth to open and close. These are gliding joints. 

There are two types of TMJD's: muscle-related TMJD, which is the more common form, and joint- related TMJD, and these conditions can often coexist.

While it is not a serious condition in terms of it being a threat to life, it can have a serious impact on health.

It is estimated that 20–30% of the adult population will have TJD problems at some point in their lifetime.


TMJD Trigger Point Treatment



Common Causes

Muscle-related TMJD's are more commonly caused by clenching the jaw and nighttime teeth grinding, which overworks the jaw muscles and puts the joint under pressure.

Joint-related TJDs are caused by degenerative joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosis, dislocations, infections, or tumors.

Joint TMJD's typically lead to a popping or clicking of the jaw joint, the jaw locking, pain at the side of the jaw joint (usually one sided), and headaches.

Muscle TMJD will lead to pain on both sides of the jaw joint, headaches, and a difficulty opening and closing the mouth.

Additional Symptoms

In addition, any of the following symptoms may also be present: pain in the shoulders, back, or neck; tinnitus (ringing in the ears); dizziness; blurred or double vision; vertigo and nausea; hearing problems; and pain in front of the ears.


Treatments for TMJD's include medications, mouth guards, splints, surgery, and even joint replacement, but the role of massage and trigger point therapy should not be overlooked and is recognized by medical practitioners.

There are a large number of muscles around the head, neck, and shoulders and to get relief from muscular TMJD's it is best to treat all of these.

As stress and tension can be contributory factors to TMJD's, massage work to relax both mentally and physically will never be wasted. 


Masseter Trigger Points TMJD

Masseter - Common Trigger Point Sites



Medial Pterygoid Trigger Points

Medial Pterygoid - Common Trigger Point Sites



Trigger Point Therapy

The primary muscles directly associated with the TMJ are the temporalis, masseter, and pterygoideus lateralis and medialis.

The secondary muscles are the mylohyoid and the anterior digastricus.

Chronic Trigger Points

Chronic trigger points in any of these muscles may lead to an increase in muscular stiffness, fatigue, and dysfunction.

These symptoms may be unilateral and/or bilateral, and are rarely seen in the under-20 age group.

Satellite Trigger Points

Further, satellite trigger points may often be located in the upper trapezius, upper semispinalis capitis, suboccipitalis, and SCM.

Find the Right Therapist

Remember, not all therapists practice trigger point therapy, and not all will be familiar with the treatment of TMJD's. The good news is that many are, and many do .... so have a chat with your therapist about trigger points, and they should be able to tell you exactly what it is that they can do for you!

Specific Contraindications

Dentures should be removed before treatment.

If your client has had recent dental treatment/surgery, wait until everything has fully healed before commencing treatment.



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More About Ischemic Compression Technique

More Articles About TMJ/TMJD

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Learning more skills increases the services that you offer and provides more opportunity for specialization.

Every NAT course is designed to build on what you already know, to empower you to treat more clients and grow your practice, with a minimal investment in time and money.

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About Niel Asher Education

Niel Asher Education is a leading provider of distance learning and continued education courses.

Established in the United Kingdom in 1999, we provide course and distance learning material for therapists and other healthcare professionals in over 40 countries.

Our courses are accredited by over 90 professional associations and national accreditation institutions including the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Full details of all international course accreditations can be found on our website.  

Printed course materials and other products offered on our websites are despatched worldwide from our 3 locations in the UK (London), USA (Pennsylvania) and Australia (Melbourne).

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We are honored to have received the 2017 "Excellence in Education" Award from the National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists.

Since 1999 Niel Asher Education has won numerous awards for education and in particular for education and services provided in the field of trigger point therapy.

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Award Winning Instructors

Niel Asher Healthcare course instructors have won a host of prestigious awards including 2 lifetime achievement honorees - Stuart Hinds, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, AAMT, 2015, and Dr. Jonathan Kuttner, MD, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, NAMTPT, 2014.

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If you are a qualified/licensed manual therapist or exercise/fitness professional you can expand your credentials with NAT certification.

In addition to national accreditation for continued education, each course that we offer includes "NAT Learning Credits". By taking and completing courses you can accumulate NAT credits to qualify for NAT certification.

There are currently 3 levels of NAT certification. Certifying NAT is a valuable way to show your clients that you take continued education seriously, and to promote your skills and qualifications.

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NAT courses are accredited for continuing education by over 30 professional associations in North America, United Kingdom, Australia, and European Union countries. These include The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy Board of California, AAFA, National Certification Board for Manual Therapists and Bodyworkers, Sports Therapy Institute, and Myotherapy Australia.

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Niel Asher Technique

Since 1999 the Niel Asher Technique for treating trigger points has been adopted by over 100,000 therapists worldwide, and has been applied to the treatment of a number of common musculoskeletal injuries.

The Niel Asher Technique for treating frozen shoulder was first introduced and published in 1997 and has been widely adopted by therapists and exercise professionals working within elite sports and athletics.

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Most of our courses are available as either "Printed" or 'Download" editions. When you purchase a download edition, you receive immediate lifetime access to all course material. Course texts can be downloaded and printed if required. 

When you purchase a "Printed" edition, you will also receive free access to the download edition.

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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 





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