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Jaw Pain

Painful, clicking jaws – how to get help

Painful, clicking jaws – how to get help

 

What is jaw dysfunction?

Not many people know that the jaw can cause all sorts of problems that impact daily life, but for those of you who have experience jaw dysfunction, it is often something at the forefront of your mind. Over the years I have heard countless patients complain about their jaw pain, so I decided to learn more about this unique region in order to help those of you suffering from it. The temporomandibular joint, also commonly known at the TMJ, is an integral part of the human body, allowing us to talk, yawn and eat with ease. However, certain circumstances, such as trauma, clenching and grinding your teeth, poor posture, arthritis and excessive joint mobility, the jaw can cause a world of pain, literally!

 

What causes it?

Dysfunction of the jaw can present in a number of ways. For some, it is purely an irritating click or cluck each time you open or close your mouth, like it was for me after falling of a horse! For others, it is painful to eat hard foods, yawn, smile or talk for long periods (a symptom mostly noticed on Saturday night!). Jaw dysfunction can even present as aching, blocked or ringing ears, which is commonly mistaken as an auditory problem. The jaw sits directly under the ear canal and can create hearing problems if it presses up against this neighbouring structure. I have also noticed that neck pain and headaches are common problems often paired with jaw problems, leaving people frustrated and confused about what to do about it.

 

The biggest limitation around jaw pain is that so many people don’t know how to tackle their problem. For many of my patients, they have often sought help from the ENT, believing it to be an auditory or sinus issue, only to be sent home with a clean bill of health. Dentists are a great source of help, preventing further teeth wear for those clenching and grinding away with the prescription of night splints. But this still leaves the problem of your jaw pain and why you get these symptoms in the first place.

 

How can physiotherapy help?

It is here that the role of a TMJ physio, like myself, becomes highly relevant. With specialised education and training in the treatment of jaw pain and dysfunction, I can not only help resolve your symptoms, but help you better understand why you are experiencing this condition in the first place and how to manage in the long-term. After an initial assessment at Balance Physiotherapy, I will be able to explain why you are experiencing your specific symptoms and initiate a treatment plan that works towards achieving your individual goals.

 

Hand-on treatment of the jaw can encompass a number of therapies. These can include soft tissue release, gentle mobilisations of the TMJ and neck, therapeutic ultrasound and dry needling. I often also prescribe gentle stretches and jaw exercises as part of ongoing self-management as well as help you learn how to monitor your behavioural patterns that lead to contributing factors, like grinding or clenching your teeth.

 

Jaw pain and dysfunction is a challenging and debilitating condition for many people, but there is help available at Balance Physiotherapy. The most important thing is your health and well-being so if you are struggling with TMJ pathologies, consider coming to see me so I can help you manage this unique condition.

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