Researchers in Brazil recently set out to analyze the effect of manual therapy with transversal and circular movements on pain and spasm in the masseter muscle, in a small sample study.

“Orofacial pain and pain in the muscles of mastication are frequent symptoms of temporomandibular disorder,” they noted. “The masseter is the closet masticatory muscle to the surface and has the function of raising and retracting the mandible.”

This muscle has considerable strength and is one of the main muscles involved in the shredding of food, according to an abstract published on “It is therefore of utmost importance in the masticatory cycle and generally the most affected by pain and spasms,” the researchers said.

Eight women who experienced pain upon palpation of the masseter greater than 6 on the a visual analogue pain scale were selected for participation in the study, which employed electromyography and a visual analogue pain scale for assessment, followed by manual oral physiotherapy and reevaluation.

The statistical analysis revealed a reduction in pain, but there was no significant difference in electromyographic activity. “It was concluded that massage therapy was effective on pain symptoms, but was not capable of altering the electrical activity of the masseter muscle,” the researchers noted.

Results ran in the journal Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology.

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