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Trigger Point Pain Affecting The Medial Pterygoid Muscles



The jaw has a primary function in the head as it allows the muscles to move up and down, helps chew food, and allows the host to speak. Each of the muscles and organs inside the jaw has its functions that will enable the head to function correctly. The mouth, part of the gut system, allows air to travel into the lungs so the body can breathe and consume food to be swallowed and digested to be turned into energy for the rest of the body to move around. The mouth, the tongue, and the teeth have a casual relationship as the teeth can grind the food into small pieces to be digested, while the tongue can taste the food. When issues begin to cause an effect on the jaw, it can lead to symptoms that can, over time, be painful to the surrounding muscles, organs, and even nerve endings along the jaw’s skeletal structure. Today’s article looks at the medial pterygoid muscle, how trigger point pain affects this muscle, and ways to manage trigger point pain on the medial pterygoid muscle. We refer patients to certified providers who specialize in musculoskeletal treatments to aid individuals suffering from trigger point pain associated with the medial pterygoid muscle along the inside of the jaw. We also guide our patients by referring them to our associated medical providers based on their examination when appropriate. We ensure to find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Jimenez DC observes this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer

What Is The Medial Pterygoid Muscle?


Do you have any problems or issues chewing your food? What about throat soreness from swallowing something hard? Or have you noticed stiffness along your jawline? Individuals experiencing these symptoms might be dealing with pain along the medial pterygoid muscle in their jaw. The medial pterygoid muscle is part of the mastication muscles, which includes the temporalis, lateral pterygoid, and masseter muscles of the jaw. The medial pterygoid is a rectangular-shaped muscle that lies inside the lateral pterygoid muscle. The medial pterygoid muscle works together with the masseter muscle as a sling to help stabilize the mandible or the lower jaw. In contrast, the medial pterygoid nerves provide sensory-motor functions to make the lower jaw move and promote chewing action, thus sending nerve signals to travel through the trigeminal nerve and send the information to the brain. Just like any of the different muscles in the body, the medial pterygoid muscle may succumb to injuries that can affect the sensory-motor function of the jaw while triggering various issues to cause more pain to the jaw and the body.


How Does Trigger Point Pain Affect The Medial Pterygoid Muscle?


When various issues begin to affect the muscles of the body, it can be something simple like repetitive motions that causes the muscles to be overused or injuries that can cause the muscles to become inflamed and, if not treated, can become sensitive to the touch. To that point, tiny knots known as trigger points are formed along the taut muscle fibers that can make the muscle become sensitive and overlap various issues that can cause pain in different body locations. Since the medial pterygoid and the masseter muscle work together, studies reveal that muscle hypertrophy may associate with the masseter, medial pterygoid, or both and can potentially be involved with the risk of dental problems or other issues that are affecting the oral-facial region. Trigger points along the medial pterygoid muscle may be challenging to diagnose due to the referred pain that affects different body areas while mimicking various pain symptoms that become the causes. An example would be a person experiencing ear pain associated with jaw pain. Now how would these two correlate when the person is dealing with ear pain? Since trigger points can mimic other symptoms, the jaw muscles (which include the medial pterygoid) become aggravated and overused, causing referred pain to the teeth overlapping with ear pain.

The Anatomy Of The Medial Pterygoid Muscle-Video

Have you been experiencing unexplainable ear pain? What about your jaws feeling stiff when chewing on something? Or have you been dealing with tooth pain in the back of your jaw? Many of these issues are correlated to referred pain symptoms associated with the medial pterygoid. The video above gives an overview look of the anatomy of the medial pterygoid muscle, its functions, and how it helps the body. When the medial pterygoid is affected by trigger point pain, it may potentially cause various conditions to affect the oral facial region or the surrounding areas of the head. Studies reveal that myofascial pain is often characterized by a trigger point in the taut skeletal muscle band or the fascia. When trigger point pain affects the mastication muscles, it may lead to other comorbidities like muscle tension, poor posture, headaches, and jaw disorders like TMJ(temporomandibular joint) pain. Fortunately, there are ways to manage trigger point pain on the medial pterygoid muscle.

Ways To Manage Trigger Point Pain On The Medial Pterygoid Muscle


Trigger point pain often affects the muscles in certain body areas, causing pain that affects the region of the body, thus making the muscle sensitive. Many individuals who suffer from trigger point pain associated with the medial pterygoid muscle would often complain of toothaches or headaches affecting their daily activities to their primary doctors. After an examination, many doctors would refer their patients to musculoskeletal specialists to see what issue is causing the patient pain in their bodies. Since trigger point pain is a bit complex, musculoskeletal specialists like chiropractors or physical therapists will examine trigger points associated with pain. Many musculoskeletal specialists utilize various techniques to release trigger points along the affected muscle to manage the pain and its related symptoms. At the same time, many musculoskeletal specialists incorporate other multiple treatments to help manage trigger point pain on the medial pterygoid muscle. These various treatments allow the muscles to relax and avoid a relapse in future injuries affecting the muscle.



The primary function of the jaw in the head is to allow the muscles to move up and down, enabling the host to speak and help the mouth chew food. The medial pterygoid is one of the four main mastication muscles that help support the jaw, which is rectangular shaped and helps stabilize the lower jaw. This muscle allows the sensory-motor function of the lower jaw and promotes chewing action. When traumatic or ordinary factors cause the medial pterygoid muscles to become overused can developed trigger points along the muscle fibers and initiate pain associated with toothaches and headaches. Trigger points along the medial pterygoid muscle can make the affected area sensitive and challenging to pinpoint. Fortunately, musculoskeletal specialists like chiropractors or physical specialists can help alleviate the pain while managing trigger points on the affected muscle through various techniques. When people begin to incorporate treatments to manage pain in their bodies, it can allow them to be mindful and avoid future injuries.



Guruprasad, R, et al. “Masseter and Medial Pterygoid Muscle Hypertrophy.” BMJ Case Reports, BMJ Publishing Group, 26 Sept. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185404/.

Jain, Prachi, and Manu Rathee. “Anatomy, Head and Neck, Medial (Internal) Pterygoid Nerve.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 11 June 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547712/.

Jain, Prachi, and Manu Rathee. “Anatomy, Head and Neck, Medial Pterygoid Muscle.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 11 June 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546588/.

Sabeh, Abrar Majed, et al. “Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Its Relation to Trigger Points, Facial Form, Muscular Hypertrophy, Deflection, Joint Loading, Body Mass Index, Age and Educational Status.” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, Wolters Kluwer – Medknow, 24 Nov. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7791579/.


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Trigger Point Pain Affecting The Medial Pterygoid Muscles" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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