The masseter is a rectangular muscle in your cheek, and it is the primary muscle used in chewing and speaking. Composed of two overlapping bellies, the masseter is the strongest muscle in the human body relative to its size (Biel, 2005).



Image by Sevia Physiotherapy


Identifying the Masseter (Biel, 2005)

  • Origin: Zygomatic arch of the temporal bone.
  • Insertion: Angle and ramus of the mandible.
  • Action: Elevates the mandible (jaw bone).
  • Innervation: The masseter is innervated by the masseteric nerve, a collateral branch of the mandibular nerve.


Causes of Injury or Tightness in The Masseter (Masseter Muscle, 2017)

  • Gum chewing
  • Biting nails, or something hard
  • Forward-head posture
  • Poor fitting dentures


Symptoms of an Injured or Tight Masseter (Masseter Muscle, 2017)

  • Jaw pain
  • Sensitivity in teeth
  • Pain under or over the eye
  • Vocal issues
  • Tinnitus, rumbling noises, or a deep itching or pain in the ear


Trigger Point Referral For The Masseter (Masseter Trigger Point Diagram, 2014)



Image by Round Earth Publishing


  • Cheeks and upper eye, causing pain resembling sinusitis
  • Upper and lower molars
  • Deep in the ear


Relieving Pain and Tightness From the Masseter

  • Using proper posture
  • Trigger point therapy (sometimes done with a gloved hand in the mouth
  • Myofascial release
  • Swedish massage
  • Refitting dentures
  • Breaking habits such as biting nails, pencils, etc. that put stress on jaw muscles




Angle of Mandible: Corner of the jaw bone found just below the ear lobe.

Insertion – The insertion of a muscle is the point at which the muscle attaches to a bone that is moved by that muscle. This point will be more distal (away from the core of the body) than the origin.

Origin – A muscle’s origin is the point at which the muscle attaches to a fixed, proximal (close to the core of the body) bone.

Ramus of Mandible –  Posterior edge of jaw bone that runs perpendicular to the ear.

Trigger Point – An area of hyperactive tissue that sends excessive pain signals to the spine, which generally “confuses” the brain as to where the pain is coming from




Biel, A., 2005. Trail Guide to the Body, Third Edition. Book of Discovery, Boulder, CO. Pp.256

“Masseter Muscle: Jaw, Eye, Ear, Pain, Sensitive Teeth.” [Internet]. The Wellness Digest. [Accessed 2017 Feb 10]. Available from:

“Masseter Trigger Point Diagram.” [Internet]. [Updated 2014]. Trigger Point and Referred Pain Guide. [Accessed 2017 Feb 10.] Available from:


About Tonya Sapiel, LMT

My goal with The Wellness Seeker blog is to educate the general public on the benefits of massage therapy, why it is an important addition to their health care routine, and what they can do to help themselves in between their massage therapy sessions. I welcome feedback and questions. I also accept requests for post topics. For more information about me or my practice, please visit

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