If you have pain or other symptoms from temporomandibular disorder (often referred to as “TMJ” or “TMD”) you have many options for helping manage your condition. Massage, of course, is one of our favorites. But here is a list, compiled by a dental hygienist, of things you can do at home to help ease your symptoms.
Recurring pain can be managed through massage and many people seek massage for help dealing with consistent problem areas. Repeating an action over and over stresses the muscle and leads to tension. Continuing the same repetitive motion disallows the muscle to heal properly. Over time, the body reacts by tightening everything up in that area in an attempt to give it needed support. Which often leads to recurring, and sometimes chronic, pain and tension– sometimes referred to as a repetitive stress or repetitive motion injury.
As the name implies, tech neck is the result of spending too much time engaging with technology. Have you spent the latter part of your career hunched over a screen only to get off work and go hunch over another screen? Do feel an anxious twinge every time you hear a ping that sends you lunging for your phone to furiously reply to whatever has hit your inbox/social media/text messaging? Perhaps hours of binge-watching “Stranger Things,” or Buffy (again), has you glued to your device … We have myriad fun, and less fun, device diversions these days that have us craning forward to stare deeply into the back-lit blue light. And our necks hurt.
Your momma was right, you shouldn’t slump. Unfortunately today’s tech world often lures us into a hunchy bunchy bad-for-your-posture slouch that puts a lot of strain on our necks, upper backs, and shoulders (and really the rest of us, too). Add to that the fact that a lot of people tense their neck and shoulder muscles (shoulders down!) when under stress, and we’ve got a recipe for tech neck. Chronic pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.
More people come to our massage team seeking relief for tech neck than any other pain complaint. We literally see this every day, usually multiple times per day. Repeatedly jutting the head forward, rounding the shoulders, and holding the arms out in front of us, puts a lot of strain in the back; and most of us live perpetually in this forward posture. Desk, car, couch– even doing “active” things like household chores or eating can put us into this position.
A good massage therapist can methodically work through your neck and shoulder girdle to relieve pain from tense knotted muscles. By working though each muscle group thoroughly, we can find tender points and apply techniques to work out the soreness and relax the muscle tissue. We typically ask for more feedback than we would in a relaxation massage to ensure that you get better results– especially if you have long-term or more intense aches.
To fully eradicate pain from tech neck you will likely have to do some PT and make some lifestyle changes (and rule out underlying conditions with your medical team). However, massage can make an immediate difference in your pain and tension. For stubborn, long-term problems, a series of sessions will provide more benefit than a single session. Or, if you cannot take steps to change your patterns, a routine of on-going massage can help mitigate your pain until you get to a different place in your life.
With a case of tech neck, we recommend trying a targeted approach in which we focus solely on your neck, back, and shoulders for the duration of the massage so we have more time to spend working through your taxed muscles. Spending more time addressing these areas and layering down through your muscle tissue, can make a big difference in your results. Once we get this area feeling better, we can zoom out and address other contributing factors.
Massage is definitely worth a try to ease the pain in your neck. You get to disconnect from the wired world for an hour or so and reconnect with your body. And come out feeling less tense, less in pain, and maybe even a little taller.