Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ)/ Jaw Pain

What is it?

Your temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull (behind your ear). See the diagram below. This joint can cause pain around the jaw itself, the surrounding facial muscles and even up into and around your ear. Pain can range from mild to severe and can be temporary or last for a number of years.

What does it feel like?

  • You may be tender around your jaw, face, ears, neck and shoulders.
  • You may find you have limited ability to open your mouth wide.
  • Your jaw may click or pop and may even get ‘stuck’ or ‘locked.’
  • Your face may swell on one or both sides.

What causes TMJ pain?

There is no exact cause of TMJ pain, but many specialists believe that symptoms arise from either the muscles of the jaw or parts of the joint itself. Causes may include the following;

  • An injury to your jaw or face; E.g. a heavy blow or whiplash.
  • If you are stressed you may be grinding your teeth, clenching or tightening your jaw more than usual, this can cause pressure on the joint.
  • Dislocation of the soft cushion (disc) between the ball and socket of the joint.

How can Physiotherapy Help?

At Back in Action Physiotherapy we will assess your pain thoroughly and establish the cause of your discomfort. If we can establish the cause of your pain we can treat the root of the problem. Techniques we may use to treat your painful symptoms may include;

  • Massaging the surrounding jaw muscles to relax the area
  • Assessment and treatment of your neck
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Education and advice