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People usually complain about earache and some jaw tension. Sometimes they complain about a roaring in the ear or some other form of tinnitus. At times, when the trigger point is most severe, there is sharp pain deep in the ear with a sickly ache in the jaw.
Usually, clients don’t complain to their massage therapist about this kind of earache and jaw pain. If they know that trigger points cause earaches and their massage therapist can help with that, they’ll remark about this as an incidental comment. Sometimes, they miss the session to seek antibiotics. Unfortunately, they usually find that this earache continues or recurs after the antibiotics finish.
Like other masseter trigger points, this jaw tension or pain with earache is usually activated by unusual jaw activity. For example, crunching ice, busting popcorn kernels, or chewing on toothpicks irritate this trigger point. Also, a bad tooth can cause a change in the chewing pattern that aggravates this trigger point.
Some clients are savvy about their temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues from previous treatment. They may also realize that they get more ear pain when they chew or stretch their jaw. This trigger point doesn’t usually create restrictions when opening the jaw. However, it does create pain around the TMJ. Often it occurs with other TMJ trigger point patterns. I have seen this pattern linger after the client has extensive dentistry that aggravated the TMJ.
Nearby joint problems, especially the upper neck joints, often perpetuate this pattern. I have people sit up straight in my seminars, lightly touch their teeth, and then roll their heads around. Try it. The relationship becomes obvious.
Also, this could be caused by a motor vehicle accident. Whipping around of the neck is more likely to create this problem. It’s a secondary effect of upper neck problems. However, once in a while, there is a direct blow to the jaw that creates musculoskeletal problems in the TMJ.
This post on anatomy contains standard information about the origin, insertion, function, and innervation of muscles. Additionally, it includes information on functional considerations and anomalies.
Anatomy posts have a grid of all related posts. This includes posts on pain patterns, self-care, therapy notes, NMT protocols, cranial techniques, and cases.
Self-Care Posts have common sections to make them easy to follow and understand:
Therapy Notes provide details for cranial, spinal, and local joint work. These notes also link to a traditional neuromuscular protocol.
By treating integrative components first, direct work on the muscle becomes less intense while providing longer-lasting relief.
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This mug has classic, colorful illustrations of the craniosacral system and vault hold #3. It makes a great gift and conversation piece.
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.