TMJ Therapy







“It is my great pleasure to bring to our community the professional skills of Julia Paholak, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT),” explains Heidi Johnson, owner of Thrive Massage and Bodywork of Ann Arbor. “I am particularly excited by her TMJ massage skills in relieving TMJ dysfunction, including jaw clenching, which you may know as bruxism. Finding a specialized TMJ massage in Ann Arbor is not easy and I feel very fortunate to have Julia as part of the Thrive Ann Arbor Massage team.”

“Julia enable us to care for even more people experiencing chronic pain, headaches, sleep loss and also people with acute injuries,” Heidi continues. “She can also help bring immediate relief if you seek to be more relaxed and better manage your life stress and tension and resulting pain.”

What is TMJ dysfunction?

“The temporomandibular joint or TMJ (it’s pronounced tem-puh-roe-mun-DIB-u-lur) is like a sliding hinge within your mouth that connects your jawbone to your skull. You have one of these sliding joints on each side of your jaw,” Julia says.

“Jaw clenching from stress and other factors can cause very unpleasant pain on one or both sides,” she continues. “This can impede your ability to concentrate on your work. It can make you impatient with your partner/spouse or children or colleagues at work. It can disrupt your sleep, leaving you in mounting pain under increasing stress.”

“I have made a special study of this,” Julia says, “and I combined elements from my mastery of neuromuscular therapy (NMT), Swedish relaxation and myofascial release to help bring you significant and immediate relief.”

The cause of your jaw pain is often difficult to diagnose—and some extreme cases may require a doctor and/or surgery—but in addition to the other annoyances and sometimes serious impacts on your life, jaw pain can make it painful to chew and enjoy your food.

“The origins of your pain may be due to genetics, arthritis or a jaw injury. You also may tend to clench or grind your teeth,” Julia continues. “But for many people, the pain is temporary and can be relieved by massage therapy.

“Another consideration,” Julia observes,” is that many people habitually clench or grind their teeth but have not yet developed TMJ disorders. Still, they are prematurely wearing out their mouth. Relief from stress and worry through regularly massage therapy goes a long way towards promoting a long, comfortable and healthy life,” the Thrive Massage Ann Arbor therapist says. “And if at all possible, you want to avoid risking TMJ dysfunction onset and potential tooth loss from prolonged grinding of your teeth.”


  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • TMJ pain in one or both joints
  • Aching either in or around your ear
  • Pain or difficulty while chewing
  • A clicking sound or grating as you chew or open your mouth
  • General facial pain or ache
  • Difficulty in opening or closing your mouth

Risk factors associate with developing TMJ disorders:

  • Rheumatoid or other arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • An injury to your jaw
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth for a long time
  • Connective tissue diseases that may affect the temporomandibular joint

Heidi, Thrive Massage and Bodywork’s owner, adds, “Your masseter muscle is the main chewing muscle and it extends along the sides of the jaw just behind the cheeks. As you would expect, it’s also the muscle that clenches your jaw and grinds your teeth. It can function as the main accomplice of bruxism—Latin for ‘grinding your teeth’—and TMJ and other facial or ear pain,” she observes

“I have found that there is a strong connection between tension headaches and jaw muscle tension. People with a headache will instinctively massage their temporalis muscle at either side of their head. But the masseter jaw muscle is often neglected, even though it is more powerful and easily clenches. They both need some attention,” Heidi recommends.

“You can see why I am very excited about increasing our client capacity to deal knowledgeably with this pain and its causes. With Julia’s thoughtful and empathetic massage therapy skills, we can help more people find more immediate relief,” Heidi continues.

“As a licensed massage therapist, I very much enjoy being a part of a person’s healing process,” Julia adds “I strive to create a trusting relationship with my clients by opening communications and encouraging them to be active and present in their own healing.” 

image of young woman biting a pencil