Jaw pain, headaches, sinus pain? You may have trigger points in your jaw muscles. Trigger points are knots or tender points in the muscles that when activated by movement of that muscle will send a shooting pain to another location within that very muscle or to other muscles. This can cause reduced range of motion and pain in that muscle. Sometimes these trigger points are caused by repetitive movement or postural stances with our bodies.
One of the main muscles in the jaw affected by trigger points is the masseter muscle. Masseter is Greek and means “to chew.” It is one of the strongest muscles in our body. It is located at the sides of our face and connects at the cheekbone to the bottom edge of the jaw. Its main function is to bite and chew food. We can create trigger points by too much gum chewing, clenching our jaws, grinding our teeth while sleeping, or even long periods in the dentist chair, propping our mouths open for dental work. Other causes can be leaving our mouths open for breathing or having a head-forward posture. Trigger points in this muscle are one of the primary causes for pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As the tension increases in this muscle the ability to open the jaw may become diminished.
Trigger points in the masseter muscles… cause pain in the front of the face, under the eyes and over the eyebrows – symptoms often mistaken for sinusitis. They can even cause sinus drainage. When sinus medicine doesn’t help your sinus pain, masseter trigger points may be the problem.
Bags under the eyes and twitching of the eye or eyelid can be traced to trigger points in masseter muscles. They can also cause pain deep in the ear, accompanied by a sense of stuffiness or the sound of low roaring. They’re often responsible for that maddening itch inside your ear that you can’t quite seem to reach.
The masseter muscles have two layers and the deeper one sits almost over the TM joint right in front of your ear. So a trigger point there can directly affect your TMJ.
My point is that while, yes, you want to eliminate those other trigger points mentioned, the one located closest to your TMJ is the one most likely to be causing you the most pain with opening and closing your jaw…read more