JAW PHYSIO

This is about treating your pain from the jaw

About the jaw

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of problems with the jaw bone/cartilage/disc, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving of the jaw.

Jaw pain is very uncomfortable and can often be associated with ear pain, neck pain and face pain.

Most patients experience ‘clicking’ and/or ‘locking’ of their jaw, just jaw pain, or jaw pain and neck pain (associated with a worn out or degenerative neck joint).

Other symptoms can include ear pain, tinnitus type sounds, headaches, and grinding of teeth. Often neck pain and headaches occur before the jaw pain.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Pain on chewing, yawning or opening the mouth widely
  • Clicking noises on opening and closing the mouth
  • Difficulty or inability to open the mouth fully
  • Locking of the jaw
Causes can include:

  • Stiff neck (cervical spine)
  • Direct trauma to TMJ/jaw or poor mechanics (i.e. over bite)
  • Jaw muscle imbalance
  • Grinding your jaw at night in your sleep.
  • Poor posture
Treatment Includes:

  • Keeping the neck joints mobile and moving through their full range with gentle mobilisation (gentle hands on treatment, no cracking of neck joints)
  • Ensuring the neck/jaw muscles are not tight and spasming
  • Addressing the neck joints and muscles responsible for referring headaches
  • Gentle jaw physio to make sure the joint is gliding along its correct line of movement – outside and inside (with a gloved hand)
  • Exercises to help align the jaw when opening and closing with symmetry
  • Exercises to strengthen the endurance muscles around the jaw
  • Considerable retraining for sitting at work, poor posture quickly returns symptoms.

A good jaw physio will not give you exercises that involve chewing a cork or pen, this exercise encourages the big power muscles (Masseter) to work. We have gentle exercises that allow your endurance muscles of the jaw to thicken/strengthen and help realign the jaw, creating and equal bite and ease of movement. Clicking is very normal whilst you are strengthening these muscles and should eventually ease and stop.

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