Changes in temporomandibular joint dysfunction symptoms following massage therapy: a case report

Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2011;4(4):37-47. doi: 10.3822/ijtmb.v4i4.110. Epub 2011 Dec 31.


Purpose: The objective of this case report was to describe the effects that massage therapy had on a woman with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Participant: The 26-year-old woman's primary symptoms were pain, decreased range of motion, clicking, and crepitus. These symptoms were reportedly associated with emotional stress and bruxism.

Intervention: Ten 45-minute massage therapy treatments were administered over a five-week period. The client's progress was monitored by an initial, midway, and final assessment, using range of motion testing, personal interview, an orthopedic test, and postural analysis. Progress was also evaluated by the use of a daily journal. The client participated in a home care routine consisting of stretches, self-massage, postural training, a proprioception exercise, and hydrotherapy.

Results: Results include an increase in maximal opening from 3.1 cm to 3.8 cm, an overall increase in neck range of motion, a decrease in muscle hypertonicity using the Wendy Nickel's Scale, a decrease in pain from 7/10 to 3/10 on a numerical pain scale, and a decline in stress.

Conclusion: Although the client in this report experienced positive results, more extensive studies are needed to understand the effects of massage on TMD.

Keywords: TMD; bruxism; intraoral; jaw pain; stress; temporomandibular joint.