TMJ and muscle spasms
Find out if TMJ is causing trigger points in your muscles
Use the images to palpate the muscles on your cheek, temple, and neck to find out if you have any trigger points. If you find one, it could be an indication of a TMJ issue.
In this test you will rate your muscles using this simplified scale of 1 to 3.
1 = No pain
2 = Mild pain. It hurts, but it’s tolerable
3 = Severe pain that causes you to release pressure quickly
A healthy muscle system should score only Ones. Any twos or threes are an indication of muscle strain and could point to bite related TMJ issues.
Find your trigger points
Find the connection between the trigger points and the actual pain spots above the eyes, behind the ear, in the temple area. Push hard, rolling your finger or thumb on the muscle to find the knot.
Trigger Point: Deep Masseter Muscle
Pain Area: Ear
Trigger Point: Masseter Muscle along jaw line
Pain Areas: Lower Jaw, Side of Head, Above the Eyes
Trigger Point: Middle of Masseter Muscle
Pain Areas: Lower Jaw, Upper Jaw, Teeth
These next two trigger points involve your neck muscles
Trigger Point: Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
Pain Areas: Lower Jaw, Above the Eyes, Back and Top of Head
Pinch the muscle that begins behind your ear and runs to your sternum and clavicle. Very often, this muscle is more painful or sore on one side. This due to a rotated head caused by an unbalanced bite.
Trigger Point: Splenius Capitus Muscle
Pain Area: Top of Head
Rub the area where your skull joins your neck at the back of your head. Known as the Nuccal Line, this spot is often sore for people who suffer from neck and shoulder aches.
This next test explores TMJ numbness and tingling issues
If the back of your hands or your fingertips feel numb, or if the numbness descends down your arm, it could be an indication that a muscle in your neck is squeezing a nerve that serves the arm. Because your neck muscles are used to keep your head in its proper position, the tight neck muscle that is impacting the nerves in your arm could be a sign of a bite problem. If your hands feel cold or are swollen, the problem is more likely to be blood vessel entrapment that is related more to chest muscles.
Trigger Point: Levator Scapulae Muscle
Pain Areas: Shoulders and back
Numbness: Arm and/or hand
How did you score?
If you scored any twos or threes, we recommend you investigate them further. Most TMJ issues can be resolved. The key to finding the right treatment is an accurate diagnosis. That’s where your dentist comes in. He or she can help pinpoint what’s going on with your bite and recommend options to resolve the problem.