I need a physical therapist for my… tongue?
August 12, 2014 5:03 PM   Subscribe

So I'm pretty sure that I've got a problem with tongue tension. If you know what that is, awesome, hang out and help me solve it… if you don't, enjoy my weird problem and be glad you never heard of it.

So I get these… not aches exactly, and not nausea, but spells of terrible discomfort, which emanates from the base of my tongue and radiates along my jaws, into my mouth. And sometimes it comes in combination with pain in my mid-upper back; and for a while I thought it was somehow linked to indigestion. But now I think it has to do with me unconsciously holding tension in my tongue, the way people can hold it in their shoulders and backs.

I've had PT for my back, and have a whole roster of recommended stretches that I do to prevent it from cramping up. My question is -- do you know good stretches or practices to help with a tension-knotted tongue? And/or neck, jaws, face? Face especially. I tried researching online but the recommendations I found didn't make a ton of sense; and they seemed more geared to singers. So if anyone knows how I can do some targeted relaxation and/or stretching of the tongue and surrounding bits, well, I'd be very grateful. Alternately, if you know what kind of doctor I ought to be seeing about this, that'd be useful too. Thanks!
posted by fingersandtoes to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend who had terrible, chronic neck pain. It turns out she was thrusting her tongue at her teeth unconsciously and had created a chain reaction of tension and malposition that made terrible neck pain. After trying a lot of different treatments, including conventional physical therapy, what ended up working was Alexander Technique. She learned to reposition her body and relax the tension and her neck problems resolved. I think she saw her practitioner for several months' worth of treatments and they resolved the neck and improved her overall ergonomics as well.
posted by quince at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2014

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the source of the tension is in your tongue -- it seems a bit unlikely that a small muscle like the tongue could cause this kind of discomfort. More likely it's somewhere else, e.g. your neck or jaw, and the pain is being projected into your tongue among other places.

Still, try this weird sounding idea: give yourself a tongue massage. I used to do this when I had bad jaw tension, on a chiropractor's advice, and it helped. It's just what it sounds like: get in there with your fingers (wash your hands first) and knead that muscle every way you can think of: top, sides, crossways, lengthwise, etc. The deeper the better -- it's supposed to hurt a bit, but in a good, massagey way. A few minutes should be enough to see if it's effective or not. Good luck.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 5:52 PM on August 12, 2014

The first thing I wondered here was whether you've been to the dentist recently, and whether you'd just checked in with your PCP before jumping to specialists. Pain in the head/mouth/neck has a really weird way of referring to places that have absolutely nothing to do with the real problem. I just got a bunch of fillings, which I definitely needed, but have since confirmed that, yes, the pain in my upper teeth is my sinuses, not anything wrong with my upper teeth, and is likely to keep happening every time my allergies act up. So, under the circumstances, my first things to rule out would be some kind of infection involving either your teeth or your throat/sinuses in particular, just because infections like are both very common and can have bad results if not treated promptly.
posted by Sequence at 6:04 PM on August 12, 2014

interesting Sequence. I have been prone to sinus infections in the past...
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:43 PM on August 12, 2014

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