Treating TMJ Dysfunction and Facial Tension
Since I became a Massage Therapist, I have always been drawn to and enjoyed giving Face and Head Massage. Three years ago, I found myself in a role which specialised in Gym workouts for the face. Through sculpting and toning different faces all day, every day, I was introduced to facial tension, and became passionate about easing the discomfort that people were carrying round with them on a daily basis.
84% of the population suffer with a form of facial tension known as TMJ Dysfunction. TMJ stands for Temporal-Mandibular Joint; the two joints which connect the jaw to the skull. It is the most complex joint in the body, and misalignment can affect how we chew, swallow and yawn. The most common cause of TMJ Dysfunction is Myofascial Pain, which affects the fascia, muscles and nerves surrounding the jaw. Inflammation and discomfort can occur through teeth grinding, jaw clenching and stiffening of muscles in response to factors such as trauma, stress, bad posture and often, suppressed emotions.
The majority of TMJ sufferers are women between the ages of 20-40, but since the Covid Pandemic, more people have been affected by facial pain. A recent study showed 51.4% of subjects reported worsening TMJ Symptoms during the Lockdown, caused by stress related to that period. Through facial massage, stress symptoms such as facial tension, headaches, neckache, and tinnitus can be diminished, and muscle relaxation restored.
I take a whole body approach in treating TMJ Dysfunction, as the jaw and hips are connected by fascia; the web of connective tissue which surrounds our bodies, holding all of our systems in place. If the jaw is suffering, it is possible that our hips are too, therefore both areas should be worked on for longer lasting results. The jaw and hips are known as the garbage points of the body, in that they hold all the stress and emotions we battle to deal with, and sooner or later this manifests physically. To be able to successfully relieve TMJ Symptoms for good, it is important to understand why symptoms have occurred in the first place.
During the initial treatment for TMJ Dysfunction, I work on the majority of the body, which allows me to assess any other areas of tightness which may be contributing to discomfort. My focus then turns to the neck, head and face and I use intra-oral techniques to release the pterygoid muscles located inside of the jaw. This can be a tender yet gratifying experience for those with tight jaws, and accompanied by a fascial release, it can sometimes be an emotional one.
Through Client Consultation, and Jaw assessment, I am able to provide aftercare advice to clients which usually include home exercises and recommendations, depending on the individual needs. A follow up treatment focusing solely on the neck, head and face is usually advised, and depending on the individual, it may take a few sessions to achieve desired results. This is why it is important to practice the homecare between treatments, as it will help to relax the jaw and surrounding areas.
For those suffering with only a mild form of facial tension or who are looking for sublime relaxation, I offer a separate treatment: Facial Rejuvenation. This is a natural face lift which sculpts the muscles and enhances contours. Regular treatments guarantee firmer muscle tone which helps tighten the skin, ironing out lines and lessening wrinkles. It is a natural alternative to anti-ageing treatments, making you look and feel fantastic. I use techniques
taken from Japanese and Indian Massage, including Acupressure to create stimulation and relaxation throughout the whole body.
Both treatments end with lymphatic drainage using a Gua’sha stone to aid the gentle removal of any toxins lying under the skin.
While there is still a lot of research to be conducted into the TMJ, the hands-on experience and positive feedback I have received from treating TMJ Dysfunction and facial tension, has proven the physical and emotional benefits of facial massage. For me, it is an enjoyable treatment to give and one which can make a difference to overall health and wellbeing.