• Dr. Mark Freund

TMJ and Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Updated: Sep 24


myofascial release for jaw pain

Both (Myofascial Pain Syndrome) MPS and (temporomandibular joint disorder) TMD can affect the jaw and cause pain and stiffness in the mouth, or temporomandibular joint.

Problems can arise from eating, constant chewing, rigorous jaw movements or other forms of physical movement with the mouth. Anything that comes in contact with the jaw and other muscles of the mouth can lead to these common conditions which require medical treatment.


Patients with TMJ problems are clinically heterogeneous and require clinical differentiation between patients with muscle dysfunction associated with myofascial syndrome and patients with other facial muscular disorders, such as overloading of the jaw muscles. These medical conditions are particularly unique and should not be taken lightly; neither should it be mistaken for other mouth disorders which is why doctors and chiropractors thoroughly assess both conditions to provide appropriate treatments.

In the next sections, let us talk more about the symptoms and causes of TMJ and myofascial pain syndrome, where you can find safe and long-lasting relief, and what treatment options are available for them.


Myofascial Pain Syndrome

myofascial pain syndrome

Sometimes it is mistakenly assumed that the word “myofascial” is only related to the face; it resembles a facial expression but actually refers to connective and protective tissue that covers the muscles. However, Myofascial pain syndrome can actually affect all muscles in the face, and the syndrome is characterized by muscle weakness and throbbing pain. The pain is called a trigger point, i.e., a muscle fiber that is in a contracted state. The muscle fibers do not receive a constant oxygen supply, and there is no proper circulation to the nodes of the muscles, resulting in nodules and small bumps, such as bumps on the skin which can also cause pain.


When a trigger point causes a persistent strain or pain in the deep muscles, you may have myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). The name “Myofascial pain syndrome” is more commonly referred to as “MPS.” The pain is caused by fascia (connective tissue) in the muscles, which ultimately causes inflammation and tense muscle nodes. The trigger is located in a sensitive area of the strained muscle and can cause pain and stiffness in other areas of the body.

Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is caused by a trigger point in the muscles that leads to poor blood circulation when used excessively. Swelling and a feeling of warmth are also common. Repeated movements and overexertion of certain muscles are possible causes.

Here are several factors that trigger the development of the myofascial pain syndrome:

  • Stress: A trigger point in a tense muscle could develop due to stress, anxiety, poor posture, and poor nutrition. Some theories suggest that anxious people are able to press their muscles under repeated stress, making them more susceptible to pain.

  • Muscle overuse: For many, deep muscle pain is a sign of possible myofascial pain syndrome, and it is likely to experience increased pain when diagnosing the syndrome. The pain occurs in the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back. You may also feel discomfort in other parts of the body, such as hands, arms, legs, and feet.

Trigger points can affect all types of muscles at any time, including the face, neck, shoulders, and back. Myofascial pain syndrome can also radiate to the jaw, teeth, and ears, which can make it difficult to chew or open the mouth.

what causes of myofascial pain

MPS can be confined to certain areas but can also radiate to other parts of the body, appearing as lumps and cramps and causing severe pain. Sleep can also be affected by the pain and might include other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and exhaustion.



TMJ Disorder

TMJ is a disease of the jaw, its joints, and muscles. The TMJ connects the jaw to the skull. If the joint is displaced or inflamed, your jaw will feel pain when you move. The hinge is needed to connect the upper and lower jaw to the rest of the body. People usually refer to temporomandibular joint problems as those that tend to grit their teeth, especially while sleeping.


Causes of TMJ Disorder

In most cases, you have the feeling that the bite is not quite right or that the teeth on the back are not as closed and connected as they used to be. If you have pain in your jaw, it can usually press on the masseter muscle that connects the lower jaw to the cheekbone. However, you may also feel pain or tightness in the neck muscles and jaw. There can be a bang, and temporomandibular joint inflammation can also manifest as pain in the ears. If you have a headache, possibly accompanied by earache, then you are likely to have TMJ problems. The pain typically occurs after eating or at night when you are struggling to sleep. If you have any of these symptoms, please consult your chiropractor, doctor, dentist, or other healthcare professionals.


Treating TMJ and Myofascial Pain

treatments for TMJ and myofascial pain

The treatment of TMJ disease depends on the cause, and identifying the cause and underlying symptoms is your chiropractor’s job. Your chiropractor can help you determine the cause of the pain and put together a good treatment plan. If your temporomandibular joint is causing you pain, we’ll help you explore all available options to find relief.


Many doctors will consider pursuing a treatment plan that combines trigger point therapy and other treatments. Treatment of jaw muscle overuse includes physical therapy, acupuncture,manual therapy and other forms of chiropractic treatments.

The application of these therapies on strained muscles increases local blood flow, reduces muscle tension, and eliminates excessive tenderness.


Patients with myofascial pain syndrome also find acupuncture helpful. Thin needles can prick skin and tissue to treat physical, mental, and emotional ailments. The insertion of a needle in several places near a trigger point, just like the dry needle technique, helps to relieve pain. Medical and dental professionals generally recommend a conservative approach to TMD treatment. Before starting pain treatment, discuss your concerns with your dentist or doctor.


Trigger Point Therapy

Your chiropractor may recommend trigger point therapy to address muscle issues in your jaw Although the exact technique varies, chiropractors usually locate the trigger point manually and mark the spot. Then a needle is inserted into the skin. Sometimes a numbing spray is used to make the injection less painful. The injection point is then cleaned with warm water for about 30 minutes.


After the treatment you may also be advised to wear a nightguard to reduce the likelihood of teeth-gritting and gnashing in sleep. There is no conclusive evidence that trigger point injections work better than other methods; however, this treatment is found to be the most effective method of relieving pain. It can also help you relieve pain in other parts of the body..

trigger point therapy for myofascial pain syndrome

See a Chiropractor for TMJ and Myofascial Pain

Facial pain can become a threat, ready to strike and ruin a day; it can be painful to treat. When it has grown beyond mere discomfort to a painful and distracting condition for which painkillers are no longer sufficient to relieve pain, it is then in your best interest to seek treatment from a pain specialist or a chiropractor.

Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are available. At Natural Chiropractic Care, we offer compassionate, personalized treatment plans to ease your pain. A chiropractor can offer treatment and exercise plans to support healthy jaw function. Trigger-point therapy is usually the most effective form of treatment, but physical therapy and biofeedback are also practicable treatment options. Our chiropractors and pain specialists at Natural Chiropractic Care can treat various diseases and give you the care you need to live a pain-free life. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, we are more than happy to help.


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