What is the medial pterygoid muscle?
This muscle is part of the temporomandibular joint. It is located in the corner of the jaw and 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 pain caused by trigger points in the medial pterygoid muscle, increases when it is stretched or if it 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 typically increased when a person yawns, when they are chewing, and when a person grinds their teeth. A person with this type of pain may have difficulty swallowing food or experience pressure in the ears. The pressure experienced in the ears is caused by the pterygoid muscle contracting on the tensor veli palatini, a muscle responsible for pressure balance of the ear.
What are the functions of the pterygoid muscle?
Unilateral contraction: The medial pterygoid shifts the lower jaw to the opposite side. This is important for chewing food.
Bilateral contraction: The medial pterygoid 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 medial pterygoid is loaded beyond its capacity, trigger points are likely to form. Repetitive movements contribute heavily to overloading the medial pterygoid. 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 the medial pterygoid.
How will a Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist treat this muscle?
An occupational therapist will use a variety of hands on approaches such as myofascial massage, trigger point dry needling and other neuromuscular techniques to reduce muscle spasming, improve jaw mobility and provide you with long lasting pain relief.
At Urban Health HQ our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists will use hands on approaches to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0411563391.