At least 39.2% of the population experience one symptom of jaw pain and it can present itself as clicking, locking or grinding of the joint that joins your jaw bone (mandible) to your head bone (temporal bone in the skull). You may even experience tension and or a dull ache in your jaw below your ear. If this sounds like you, then you may be experiencing a symptom of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD).
Like most things the cause of jaw pain is usually multifactorial. Anything from a blow to the jaw (trauma), osteoarthritis, stress, anxiety, a displacement of the disc inside the temporomandibular joint, or a great big jumble of all of the above could be giving you a bit of grief. The main culprits who experience TMD are teeth grinders and clenchers and repetitive jaw movers.
Jaw pain has a close relationship with emotional stress and anxiety so it’s important for us to consider your body as whole and work with each of your body’s systems for optimal function. It’s also important to check in with yourself and acknowledge times when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or down. With everything going on at the moment, it’s okay and totally normal to not be feeling the best version of yourself. It definitely isn’t a reason to be taking it out on your jaw.
As osteopaths, we want to help you get to the bottom of what is causing your pain. Your osteopath can use a multitude of techniques to provide relief to the joints, muscles and tissues associated with the function of your jaw. These techniques can include soft tissue therapy to the muscles within and around the jaw, stretching, activation exercises, joint mobilisation, advice and rehab to encourage pain relief. Using a holistic approach to treatment, other areas of your body including your neck and shoulders will also be considered.
Whilst osteopaths can provide relief by treating the muscles and ligaments of the jaw, if required, your osteopath may collaborate with your dentist or orthodontist to gain a thorough understanding of what’s causing your jaw pain.
At Muna, we want to empower you to take hold of your pain and tell it who is boss. Here are some pretty easy practices that you can do at home to manage your jaw pain. These include:
· Chew on both sides of your mouth (duh!)
· Ease up on chewing gum (try mouth wash instead)
· Listen to your mum and drink plenty of water
· A good night’s sleep will do wonders for your jaw (and your mood and productivity)
· Meditate (it also just feels good to check in)
· Chuck a couple of neck stretches in there and you’ll feel limber from the shoulders up
If you would like more information about jaw pain and TMD or have any questions, feel free to reach out or make an appointment with one of our friendly osteopaths (add link).
Written by Osteopath Dr Renae Nguyen