The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a hinge like joint that moves the your jaw up and down. This is an important function that allows you to chew, talk and often times breathe. What supports the jaw and allows it to move up and down are skeletal muscles. In fact, the primary use of all skeletal muscles is to move bones.
The initials TMJ have become synonymous with anyone at anytime having jaw pain, but many times jaw pain is not coming from your TMJ. There are a host of other things other than a problem in either your left or right jaw joint (TMJ) that can give you pain and discomfort.
The most common problem are tight masseter muscles, followed by tight temporalis muscles. Everyone has two macerater muscles, one in either cheek and two temporals muscles on the outside of your head. The masseter is a very powerful muscle, in fact it is one of the most powerful muscles in the body. This muscle, like every other muscle in your body could become sore, fatigues or develop trigger points. Do to the location, density and use of the masseters any tightness will most likely cause pain.
I am writing this today because I had this very issue with a patient this morning. She had a very tight, sore and slowly moving jaw. A careful analysis revealed her masseters are very tight and needed some soft tissue work.
So if you ever develop a problem with your “jaw”, don’t always assume TMJ. It may be TMJ, or it may be something else. Get it checked out by a competent professional who may offer you a simple solution. ~Dr G.