Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)

Pain in your temporomandibular joint – where the lower jaw connects to the head – can be excruciating in and of itself. However a misalignment of the joint can also lead to tension and pain throughout the face, head, neck, as well as shoulders, not to mention expensive dental work resulting from uneven use of the teeth.

Massage Therapy:

Perhaps the most obvious of our treatments for TMJ disorders is massage therapy. It can be highly effective at relaxing the tense muscles in the head, face, neck, and shoulders that are causing distress.  Depending on the severity of the tension or misalignment, as well as the comfort level of the patient, a variety of techniques can be used, ranging from extremely light lymphatic massage to somewhat stronger external and internal manipulation of the jaw muscles.


Both traditional Chinese and orthopedic styles of acupuncture can be effective in treating TMJ disorders by helping to release muscle spasms, tension, decreasing inflammation (the resulting swelling and pain), and engaging the parasympathetic nervous system (known as the ‘rest and digest’ response, this branch of the nervous system must be active for healing and deep relaxation to occur).


Reflexology is a form of touch therapy that stimulates deep circulation and relaxation by applying gentle pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and head.  Patients suffering from TMJ who are too sensitive for traditional massage work often find reflexology an excellent alternative.  In addition to gently stimulating acupressure points around the ears and jaw, by working specific points on the feet and/or hands, reflexology can provide relief from TMJ symptoms without directly touching the face.


Although counselling or psychotherapy may at first seem out of place on this list, it can be an incredibly valuable tool in helping to resolve long term or chronic TMJ.  Many people may be familiar with feeling more tense than normal when undergoing periods of stress. For some, an intense or long-standing emotional stress-or can cause unconscious teeth grinding or jaw clenching.  Unpacking and resolving the underlying emotional disruption(s) can allow tense and guarded muscles to relax, letting the jaw settle back into an appropriate alignment.  This in itself can alleviate many TMJ symptoms, as well as increasing the efficacy of other treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and reflexology.

This is the first in a series of articles exploring how a single condition or complaint can be addressed by the many different therapies and modalities that we offer at Varsity Natural Health Center.  These therapies can work together to address the condition as a whole, or be used individually to help with specific aspects of it.

Our Specialists/Therapists

Our Massage Therapist’s

Bobbie Lu-Kopf: Bobbie has been a Natural Health Practitioner and Registered Massage Therapist for 19 years.  In both private treatment sessionsand classesshe draws on her education and experience to create a wealth of complementary healing modalities. She effortlessly integrates traditional Chinese philosophies of health and mindfulness with Western practices.

Urszula Rutka: Urszula trained as an occupational massage therapist in Poland before continuing her studies in Canada.  A life-long learner, she is highly proficient in many different modalities, and is particularly interested in helping those suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.

Our Acupuncturist 

Michael Amador McFarlane: Michael is a registered acupuncturist trained in Canada and China.  He provides treatments in both traditional Chinese and orthopedic styles of acupuncture, as well as cupping therapy.

Our Psychologists

Monica Dragosz: Monica is a Psychotherapist and Yoga Instructor. She has a strong skill-set for trauma resolution, and specializes in the areas of depression, anxiety, griefloss, stress management, interpersonal issues, and personal/spiritual development. In addition to private sessions, she teaches weekly Yoga Heart & Mind classes.

Sue Fortune: Sue is registered with the Canadian College of Professional Counselors and Psychotherapists (CCPCP). She also holds a Masters of Science degree in Psychology and is D.B.T. Certified.  As a Registered Counselor, Sue uses person-centered therapy in a safe and non-judgmental environment.  She counsels children, adolescents, individuals and couples.  Her experience includes (but is not limited to) anxiety, depression, stress, bullying, thoughts of self-harm, and cutting behavior.  Sue is also trained as a Clinical Hypnotherapist.

Roxana Sterniczuk: Dr. Roxana Sterniczuk is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist in Alberta.  She completed her Masters and Doctoral degrees at the University of Calgary in the area of Psychology, with a specialization in Behavioral Neuroscience.  She expanded her clinical research training as a Post-doctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University, in areas of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Geriatric Medicine.  Dr. Sterniczuk also holds a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Dalhousie University, and she has specialized residency training in Clinical Neuropsychology from University of Toronto affiliate, Baycrest Health Sciences.