What is the medial pterygoid muscle?
This is the muscle of the temporomandibular joint, located in the corner of the jaw, which causes pain in the jaw, throat, and ear, when it holds tension or has trigger points.
What are the symptoms of medial pterygoid muscle pain?
A trigger point is a hyper irritable spot in a muscle which holds tension and causes pain. Trigger points found in the medial pterygoid can cause the following:
- Pain in the tongue
- Pain under and behind the temporomandibular joint
- A deep pain in the ear
- A sore throat
The symptoms and pain caused by a trigger point in this muscle, increases when the muscle is stretched or if the muscle is contracted. When a person opens their jaw, this muscle gets stretched, and each when they close their jaw, it is contracted. Therefore, pain is usually observed to be increased when a person yawns, during chewing of food or other objects, and when a person grinds their teeth. A person with this type of pain may have difficulty swallowing food or experience pressure in their ears.
What are the functions of the pterygoid muscle?
Unilateral contraction: The muscle shifts the lower jaw to the opposite side. This is important for chewing food.
Bilateral contraction: The muscle closes the jaw when contracted on both sides and helps to bring the mandible or jaw forward.
What can create trigger points in the medial pterygoid muscle?
Having a sustained posture which brings the head forward, forces the lower jaw into a position that places the pterygoid muscle under pressure. If this occurs frequently trigger points form.
When the muscle is loaded beyond its capacity to withstand the stress it is under, trigger points are likely to form. Repetitive movements contribute heavily to overloading this muscle. Chewing gum, grinding teeth, and eating tough chewy food are repetitive actions which require constant activation through this muscle.
Emotional tension and stress from everyday life can also cause muscle tension to build and lead to the development of trigger points in this muscle.
How will a Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist treat this muscle?
Soft tissue occupational therapists work to reduce muscle spasming, remove trigger points in muscles and prevent the return of muscular pain. Soft tissue occupational therapists work with hands on myofascial and neuromuscular techniques to reduce muscular spasming and pain. A soft tissue occupational therapist will work with you to identify the cause of your pain and work on prevention of future muscle spasming.
At Infused Health our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists will use a hands on approach to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0401 876 623.
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