First of all, most people skip their bodywork session when they feel this way as they believe that they are getting sick. When they do come in with this, people complain of earache that extends into the mouth, jaw and throat. The entire side of the mouth can feel achy and congested like there is an infection in the tooth, sinus or ear.
The pain along the back corner of the jaw may be the primary complaint as it seems more appropriate when seeking treatment for TMJ. When asked, they will often complain of pain while chewing and stuffy ears, as well.
This can be aggravated by chewing gum, ice, taffy or other foods that are challenging. This is often part of a chronic head-forward posture. In that case, stretching and bodywork are often needed for lasting correction. Young people like the whipper-snapper in this mug shot probably do too much texting and computer work, which when not balanced with a good exercise routine can perpetuate head-forward posture.
Ice and stretch can be useful for temporary relief. Ice along the side of the jaw while opening the jaw wide. Here is a post on the basics of ice and stretch.
Your bodyworker can help you with an effective approach to self-care and postural balance.
Cranial work seems critical for easy releases and lasting results when working the TMJ, especially the medial and lateral pterygoids. When the cranial joints are freed, especially around the temporal bone, painful intra-oral work can be minimized or even avoided. The cranial work can also minimize the need for extensive TMJ stretching, exercises and appliances.
The mandible is unexpectedly flexible. The medial pterygoid can be swollen and overdeveloped causing the jaw spread near the ear. It is often seen as a masseter when it is not.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.
He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.