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Trigger Point Injections For Jaw Muscle Pain Donald Tanenbaum

Trigger Point Injections For Jaw Muscle Pain

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: January 17, 2014

Amidst the commonly used therapies to address jaw muscle pain is a technique called muscle trigger point injections (sometimes referred to as “needling”).

Trigger point injection therapy was developed over 50 years ago and has been effectively used to treat muscle pain in the back, neck and jaw ever since. This technique mechanically breaks up the knots (trigger points) that form as a result of muscle fatigue, strain, injury and overuse (in my practice, that means teeth clenching and grinding). Once formed, trigger points can remain latent and not produce symptoms, but when they become active they are capable of producing intense muscle pain.

The Needling Process

Because trigger points form at predictable locations, we can use the needling process to mechanically stimulate the affected muscle, as if the muscle was being “tenderized” and actually “break up” the knots in the muscle. Often local anesthetic (lidocaine) is used so that the site of injection is less tender the next day.

Trigger point injections can be very valuable in the treatment of jaw muscle pain, which characterizes TMJ syndrome, one of the specialties of my practice. But, in order to be effective, a series of trigger point injections is necessary if benefit is to be obtained. Treatment sessions can be spaced weekly and delivered three to four times.

My patients are sent home with a series of stretching exercises, which are critical following the injections and must be performed daily. In addition, careful attention must be given to identifying factors that will likely perpetuate the problem (such as teeth grinding and jaw clenching). For many patients, monthly trigger point injection sessions are preferred over long term the medications that would be necessary if their muscle pain escalated to troublesome levels. What’s more, trigger point injections can be safely used during pregnancy (without local anesthetic).

The majority of my patients who suffer from the debilitating effects of severe jaw muscle pain benefit greatly from this simple therapy. And, trigger point injections, combined with other treatments, are extremely helpful in the long-term management of jaw muscle pain.

Dr. Donald Tanenbaum is a specialist with offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat facial pain associated with jaw problemsTMJreferred painnerve pain, and migraines. Find out more at

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