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Palpation & Release of the Lateral Pterygoid for TMJ Pain


The lateral pterygoid muscle is inevitably quite tender in most individuals with TMJ issues or bruxism. To palpate, place the index finger inside the mouth. Apply pressure in a cranial direction just underneath the zygomatic arch.

Compare tenderness of the left versus right lateral pterygoid. I cannot emphasize, BE GENTLE with this palpation technique as you may make some patients scream and lose trust in you!

How to Release Pterygoid Muscle Tone

Gently squeeze the muscle between the index finger and the thumb. Start with a gentle pressure, and gradually increase the muscle squeeze as tolerated.

Teach the patient to self-squeeze the lateral pterygoid muscle for 1 minute several times per day. Relief of the headache, jaw or facial pain is sometimes immediate.

Posted on: September 09, 2010

Categories: TMJ