Client with TMJ Pain - Known to be Associated with Stress
Client with Pain in the TMJ Region - Known to be Associated with Stress
An elementary school teacher contacted me about the pain in his jaw (TMJ). TMJ is known as a joint that holds stress when and where expressions are limited due to emotions such as anger or frustration.
This client found me through a Google search, and the idea of stress as an underlying source of the TMJ pain made sense to him. So when I asked if he was aware of any stress related to this pain, he mentioned his jaw first started aching in college when he was under great stress and that he had had habitual stress and pain since then. However, he had not quite figured out what to do about it, but now that the pain had become chronic, he was finally in serious search for a solution. I suggested that he go get acupuncture first (as I have full faith in their pain treatment skills), and to see how that may help as a long-term, ongoing maintenance tool.
During our appointment, the client reported that the acupuncture sessions helped greatly reduce the chronic tension and pain. He shared that "now I know what it means not to have that stress, and I also am now aware of when the stress is coming back." We worked on practicing EFT to address the stress as it comes in the moment. I asked the client if there is any specific recent situation that brought up the stress response in his body. He said, "Oh yeah...." with a grimace. The specific symptoms related to stress and his TMJ region were two at this time: 1. "The tension right along the strip under my ear along my jaw," and 2. "this shoulder tension at the top." Our first set up statement to "tap through" this was "even though I have this pain in my jaw, I completely and fully love and accept myself," and after one round, the SUD has reduced from 8 to 4. We next worked on the pain across the top of the shoulder which was also at a level 8 initially. This one reduced to 0 in one round. We revisited the strip on the jaw, and the client felt that there was no pain left, and was quite amused!
I mentioned to him that this is first level EFT tapping to address the stress and sensations he is feeling in the moment, which should help greatly with his body so it will not be accumulating more and more stress as he faces situations. I also suggested possibilities to explore further, should he wish, to find if there may be an underlying pattern at a subconscious level that may be causing his body to send the alert signal around the shoulder and jaw. Overall, client has felt empowered to have the tool to address any symptoms at the next stressful situation.
Client with Pain & Limited Opening
A client called in from work soon after his mouth has started hurting during a presentation. What happened was that he got very excited during the presentation and opened his mouth "wider than he should have." The audience was worried about him as he had tears swelling up in pain. This client was aware that since his 20s, whenever he had a project due date coming up, or was feeling stressed, his jaw would start to hurt. Fortunately, with this session and with the prospect of an upcoming week off from work, the client felt so much more at ease. And yes, the mouth opened two fingers' worth wider, without pain (at the end of the session.)
Client, Loads of TrP Inside the Mouth with a Particularly Stubborn "Crunchy"
Initially, this client came in for stress relief and bodywork. As we worked together, we decided to take a good look at the TMJ issue as bruxism was brought up. Client had been wearing night guards. Inter-orally, there were some easier to release trigger points and some that were a little tighter. There was one major trigger point right by the left TMJ that felt as if it were gravel. Together, we breathed and rolled it around between fingers (one finger on the inside of mouth and the other on the outside), occasionally pressing in hopes of breaking up "the knot." Eventually, this particularly stubborn knot disintegrated and the tension pattern led my fingers to move up to the cheek bone, along the nose, to the inside corner of the eye. I pulled out my hand, the client took a deep breath, and we looked at each other - "What was that!?" Not exactly sure what had happened - I'm sure there will be some scientists interested in eventually analyzing the science (could it be facial tension pattern? Is that a calcium deposit? A build up of lactic acid? I cannot answer with confidence.) All I know is that client experienced relief and that it made a difference. While not all grinding is gone from that one trigger point removal, the crunching in the left side TMJ had drastically decreased, and the client was happy with the progress. This client is committed to coming back in, and is aware that repetitive sessions will add up to further healing, recovery, and more self-discovery.
High School Student with Locked Jaw
A mother called in asking if I could help with her child's locked jaw. I mentioned that a locked jaw would be a disk issue, where the articular disk cartilage movement is impacted, and is not a muscular nor nerve impingement issue (which is what I usually work on). Nevertheless, I agreed to meet with the client to offer support while they figured out the next steps. Unfortunately, the intra-oral work did not provide useful for the jaw to unlock as I learned from follow-up communication. The client is has now started seeking care from a chiropractor. My recommendations at the time of finishing the session were to be mindful of the high risk of popping/locking for future problems, to be proactive in seeking support and options in terms of treatments, and to be aware that change of eating and life habits is necessary to accommodate the TMJ's condition as we would not want the jaw to lock again. Here is what the mother shared:
My teenage daughter and I met Mitsuko for the first time last week. We consulted her for my daughter's jaw locking/popping issue. Mitsuko spent time with us, asking questions to better understand the situation and then working on my daughter to see if she could address the locking issue through massage technique and other hand manipulations. Throughout the session Mitsuko showed genuine care and concern for addressing the issue. Still, after the treatment session we discussed at length the potential causes and she offered a range of resources. Mitsuko provided us with a multitude of additional resources and suggestions. Mitsuko is extremely professional and goes way above and beyond, demonstrating her dedication to seeing that her clients get better, even when the recommendations may not involve seeking her own professional care. That’s true caring and commitment.