TMJ (Jaw) Pain

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) of the jaw are the most used joints in the body, involved in eating, talking and even breathing. When there is a problem affecting the jaw joint, muscles or facial nerves around the TMJ it is called temporomandibular disorder.

Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include

  • Tenderness of the jaw or jaw muscles

  • Headaches

  • Neck pain

  • Pain around the ear

  • Pain when chewing, biting or yawning

  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth

  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth

  • Tooth ache or pain when no dental problems can be found

Causes

  • Teeth clenching or grinding (Bruxism)

  • Jaw dislocation or other trauma

  • Arthritis

  • Bite misalignment (eg asymmetrical, overbite, underbite)

  • Stress

Signs & Symptoms

The most commonly seen TMJ issue is articular disc displacement. This happens when the muscles of the jaw start to pull on the soft tissues, specifically the articular disc, and it can be displaced at the front of the joint. This displacement is often what causes the clicking or popping of the jaw. As the tissue around the disc is highly innervated this will also be painful. In extreme cases the disc can become stuck in this position leading to a locked jaw.

Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment may include advice and education, manual mobilisations of the TMJ and upper cervical spine joints, soft tissue release techniques, acupuncture or dry needling and a home exercise program including self-release & massage techniques as well as some range of movement and strengthening exercises. We are also in touch with local dental specialists and can refer on for night splints and any other input if required.

The prognosis is good with recent research showing that 75% of patient with TMJ dysfunction will make a full recovery within 3months of starting a physiotherapy treatment program. In fact, most of the patients we see in our clinic see improvements much quicker than this.

So if you are suffering from Jaw pain don’t delay, book you appointment today.

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