Jaw Pain

The  jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint, is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear.  It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. It is usually shortened to the “TMJ”.

While the exact cause of TMJ dysfunction is still being debated, there are a number of factors which can lead to TMJ problems. These include: trauma e.g.  whiplash, grinding teeth (bruxism), clenching of the jaw, stress, problems with the disc, posture, arthritis,  bite misalignment and other dental issues.

This troublesome area can be the cause of many conditions including

  • pain in the neck , face, ear, or shoulders
  • headaches,
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • dizziness
  • Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite

How can an Osteopath help?

The TMJ is a complicated area. Numerous muscles are involved in opening, closing and sideways movement of the jaw. The muscles and joints of the neck also have a reciprocal relationship with the muscles of the jaw so that when the jaw is opened and closed the neck muscles contract to counterbalance the jaw.

Osteopaths are trained to specifically evaluate and treat the TMJ and related joints and muscles.  They also evaluate your posture to ascertain if this is contributing to the problem.  Exercises and relaxation techniques  are often prescribed. In some cases Osteopaths may work in conjunction with Dentists or recommend a mouthguard/splint to help with treatment.

 

Research Links:

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) effects on mandibular kinetics: kinesiographic study.

Osteopathic manual therapy versus conventional conservative therapy in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders: A randomized controlled trial