Do you suffer from TMJ pain? Does your jaw click with each and every bite? Are you left frustrated with pain in the face and around your ear that just doesn’t seem to improve? Rest assured you are not alone. Your Temporomandibular joint – or TMJ can be a very tricky joint to treat. It’s a mouth full just to say out loud! Make no mistake TMJ pain is no laughing matter. And left untreated can result in long term pain and dysfunction, not to mention a frustrating click. In today’s article we address some factors you may want to consider when dealing with this injury.
What exactly is my TMJ?
The TMJ is a joint which acts like a sliding hinge (condyle), connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. And its located just in front of your ear’s. The TMJ joint moves each time we speak, open our mouth chew or talk. So as you can imagine they get a lot of work. And just like any other joint in our body they can become inflamed, irritated, locked and subjected to arthritis.
What are the signs and Symptoms of TMJ Pain:
- Pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Clicking of the jaw
- Aching around your ear or in your ear
- Locking of the TMJ joint
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Pain with eating or chewing
- Pain around the side of the face and head
- Ringing in the ear – Tinnitus.
What causes TMJ pain?
Each and every individual is different. So determining the exact cause of your TMJ pain is often difficult. Generally in our clinic we see a multiple of causes leading to TMJ dysfunction and pain.
- Genetics play a role
- Muscular spasm and tightness around the jaw
- Those that clench / grind their teeth
- Neck mobility issues and posture related problems
- Alignment issues of the TMJ joint
- Stress -which can lead to clenching the jaw
- Prolonged dental procedures
Why does my jaw click?
Clicking of the jaw is often caused by an irritation or alignment issue with the articular disc inside the TMJ. Ordinarily this disc allows for smooth movement of the joint. Unfortunately when it becomes misaligned, degenerative or stuck, the only way it can return to its normal position is to click. As it slides or clicks back into place this click can be felt and heard at the joint site. Generally speaking this will happen as the jaw opens or closes.
What can be done to help my TMJ Pain?
In most causes if caught early enough, the symptoms of TMJ pain and dysfunction can be addressed successfully with conservative treatment and management. The key factor is determining WHERE your pain is coming from. And if it is in fact your TMJ.
If we consider “who’s in the neighbourhood” of your TMJ. We look very closely at your neck. Specifically the top part of your neck. We look at the muscles of the face, jaw and upper neck. As well as those on the INSIDE of your mouth. We use a variety of techniques to reduce the spasm of the local muscles. Aim to improve the mobility of the neck joints as well as the actual TMJ.
Thinking about how wide you open your mouth. Reducing this may help. This involves staying away from large food objects. Such as hamburgers or big sandwiches. Opting to eat softer foods such as pasta or soups. This allows us to still eat, but doesnt require our jaw muscles too work too hard. Avoid chewing gum for prolonged periods of time. Ensuring your neck muscles are loose, and the mobility of the upper neck is free and mobile.
We often work closely with your dentist, to assess the integrity of your teeth. If you are grinding we need to implement strategies to help this.
How long does TMJ pain last?
Everyone is different, But as with anything, the quicker we can assess and determine where your TMJ pain is coming from the quicker we can implement strategies to reduce your pain and dysfunction.
Here at Equilibrium Sports and Spinal clinic in Glen Iris our Osteopath’s are highly trained to asses and diagnose your TMJ pain effectively and quickly. Implementing strategies to get you back onto the road of recovery. Our Osteopaths service Malvern, Glen Iris, Ashburton, Hawthorn and Caulfield. Let us guide you back to enjoying your life, TMJ pain free.
Feel free to email us at [email protected] .
We are also more than happy to chat via our blue Drift Chat box in the bottom right hand corner.