Jaw pain often referred to as temporo-mandibular joint pain (TMJ pain) may benefit from osteopathic treatment. The presenting symptoms may represent a much more complex condition that may require additional referral to other healthcare practitioners and an integrative multi-disciplinary approach to treatment. Your osteopath has the training to recognise this and may be well suited to providing support and direct treatment.
Symptoms of Jaw Pain
Jaw pain when it is related to the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) is often felt directly at the joint which is located just in-front of the ear. Pain may also be felt along the angle of the jaw, around the face, in the ear, even in the head manifesting with headache-like symptoms.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Jaw Pain include:
- A clicking or locking jaw while chewing food or opening the mouth widely (for example when ‘yawning’)
- Sinus pain
- Tooth pain
- Neck pain
- Restriction when opening the mouth
- Clenching or grinding the teeth
Causes of Jaw Pain
There can be a range of causes of jaw pain. One of the common causes is believed to be as a result of malocclusion which relates to when the teeth fit together in a way that places additional forces and stress on the jaw joint and associated structures. Other causes can be related to neck and shoulder tension, clenching the jaw during the day, or grinding teeth while asleep at night. Often there can be an element of stress or anxiety associated with some of these problems.
Dental work can cause strain to the jaw and associated tissues either directly from prolonged and forceful procedures or indirectly from extractions, root canals, or other surgical procedures.
It is important to differentiate the type of pain as jaw pain can be indicated from dental complications, infections, or even during a cardiac event such as heart attack.
Treatment and management of Jaw Pain
Osteopathic treatment can be helpful for jaw pain and is often administered in combination of other allied professionals such as dentists, oro-facial myologists, and orthodontists.
Your osteopath will be able to treat the joints, muscles and soft-tissues associated with the function of the jaw.
What to avoid
- You may be advised to avoid eating foods that require forceful or prolonged chewing (for example apples or steak)
- Do not self prescribe massage, stretches or try adjust your jaw