Jaw pain is a very common condition experienced by at least 10% of the Australian population. It is more common in women than men. Jaw pain is sometimes called TMJ, which stands for temporo mandibular joint (your jaw joint). People mistakenly use the term TMJ to describe their condition i.e. “I have TMJ”. What they should be saying is “I have a TMJ problem” or “I have TMD (temporo-mandibular –disorder)”
Jaw pain is often associated with other symptoms such as clicking, stiffness of the jaws, locking, headache, ear pain or blocking and occasionally ringing of the ears (tinnitus). The pain is often worse in the morning and is a sign that you may be clenching (bruxing) at night. Stress is a major contributing factor to clenching but is not the only reason for this unconscious habit. Jaw pain commonly occurs when excessive force is applied to the jaws such as wisdom teeth extraction, or when the mouth is kept open for extended periods such as during lengthily dental procedures.
Jaw pain Loganholme can be related to or contributed to by an issue of the head and neck alignment leading to a mechanical stress on the jaw joint and its associated muscles. Whiplash Springwood type injury is a common prelude to jaw pain and may only manifest in jaw pain years later. Neck structures can also refer pain to the face and jaw region producing jaw pain type symptoms which do not originate in the jaw joints or structures. This can contribute to a confusing picture when trying to determine the source of pain and plan appropriate treatment.
Physiotherapists with special interest and training in TMJ / jaw conditions are able to asses and treat both areas of the neck and TMJ’s to determine where your pain is coming from and what structures require treatment. Often treatment focussing on the head and neck areas as well as the TMJs is indicated for resolution. Although your dentist may be able to assist your jaw pain and clenching by fitting you with a custom made mouth splint, they are not generally able to asses or treat any neck component of your jaw / TMJ pain. If you suspect a neck component due to stiffness at the back of the head and neck, headaches at the back of the head, or if you are not getting expected results with a mouth splint, then be sure to contact a local clinic. Our physiotherapists have special training and experience treating a range of jaw pain / TMJ conditions.