Muscle of the Quarter chosen by Ami – Temporalis

Jan 12, 2018

temporalisWhat is it?
Also known as the Temporal Muscle, Temporalis is one of the muscles of mastication (chewing). It is broad and fan-shaped, occupying a depression in the skull called the temporal fossa on each side of the head. If you place your fingers above your ear while clenching and unclenching your jaw, you will feel the temporalis at work.

Why have we chosen it?
Temporalis is a powerful muscle of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the jawbone to the skull. Due to its location and frequent use, patients come to us with jaw pain, headaches, and referred pain; we find this muscle is often the culprit.

Osteopathic treatment is often overlooked where the TMJ is concerned, when in fact, our osteopaths view it in the same way as any other joint in the body. It has muscles, ligaments, tendons and capsules which activate the joint, and they need the same attention given to other, more obvious, areas of the body.

Jaw Pain
Jaw pain can result from a number of issues such as, trauma, arthritis and posture.

In the case of the temporalis muscle it is likely caused by clenching the jaw and habitual grinding of teeth, namely Bruxism. This often happens during sleep, and can be due to stress and/or anxiety. Clenching the jaw can lead to overwork of the temporalis, resulting in pain.

When we get a headache, what do we reflexively do? We massage the temples, meaning we are massaging the temporalis muscle.
We often find there is a strong connection between jaw muscle tension and headaches.

Other activities that have been associated with temporalis pain are:
• Excessive forward head posture.
• Texting, reading a book, or any activity that involves tilting your head down for prolonged periods.

Osteopaths may use a combination of manipulative techniques, such as soft tissue, articulation, inhibition and trigger point therapy.

Trigger point therapy involves the application of pressure at different levels to tender muscular areas in order to relieve pain in local and referred areas. The treatment aims to reduce muscle tension and as a result alleviate the pain.


• Find tender spots in the muscle with your thumb.
• Apply direct pressure on to the tender spot for 10 seconds and then release.
• Repeat 3 times.

General advice from our osteopaths:

• Avoid sticky food such as chewing gum, and toffee.
• Avoid food that requires opening your mouth very widely, such as apples.
• Relax the jaw with stretching exercises.

If you would like to be seen by one of our osteopaths, or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email, and we will get back to you promptly.

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