Duncan Webster osteopath, loves data, fairness, health07880542823

Ptalpation of the pterygoids

Or at least the lateral one.

Musculuspterygoideuslateralis“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I have just finished reading this excellent article on attempting to treat the lateral pterygoid via direct digital stimulation. On those occasions where I have used techniques like this, I have definitely noticed that the area described is very tender, and extremely hard, so I had some concerns about exactly what it was.

The conclusion that we actually access the tendon of the temporalis muscle makes a lot of sense to me. However, whilst reading I was struck by the extreme specificity of the work – how often is it going to be relevant to directly interact with the inferior fibres of the lateral pterygoid? Will just working structures with the same nervous supply have a similar effect?

I often wonder about high levels of specificity, not least due to standard anatomical variations coupled with lack of inter- and intra- rater reliability of palpation! But that is a topic for another day. For now, I try to focus on functional movements and muscle patterns, so the final treatment discussion of post isometric relaxation MET stretch of the jaw is the one which I already use most commonly.

In fact, it is a great exercise to perform on yourself – oppose the jaw movement to the right and left, then opening, closing and pro and retraction for ten seconds a go, and you will get a surprising amount of relaxation.

And, if all that is too complicated, just rub the external muscles!

jaw st (Large)

1. rub the sides of your head with the balls of your hands, like you just can’t cope any more

2. rub the corner of your jaw any way you like, where it aches if you eat something incredibly sour

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