Jaw pain is often caused by a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These joints are located on each side of your face and are responsible for helping you open and close your mouth. The bones that make up this joint glide against each other, similar to a door hinge, and are also separated by a tiny shock-absorbing disk which allows for smoother movement.
What can go wrong?
A problem occurs when there is abnormal function of anyone of the structures that make up the TMJ, such as when:
· The cartilage that covers the bone undergoes wear and tear
· There is misalignment or damage of the disc
· The muscles that surround the jaw are overly tight
Who is at risk?
There are some factors that increase your likelihood of acquiring TMJ disorders. These include:
· Having had previous trauma to the jaw, head or neck
· Misalignment of the teeth(underbite or overbite)
· Persistent grinding and clenching of the teeth
· Dental procedures
· Poor posture
· Some special neurological disorders
· Increased stress
If you have a TMJ disorder, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
· Pain in the jaw, face or ear
· Clicking or popping of the jaw
· Locking of the jaw-inability to fully open or close the mouth
· Deviation of jaw to one side
· Pain while chewing
· Persistent headaches
How can Osteopathy help?
At Muna, we can help you manage your jaw pain by conducting a thorough assessment of your injury and overall health, with the aim of finding the root cause of your jaw pain. This will then be followed by an individualised osteopathic treatment and the prescription of a home-care plan that is highly tailored to your lifestyle and personal needs.
What happens in the treatment?
1. Case history taking: We ask questions about your symptoms, your past medical history, your diet, lifestyle and stress levels. These help us paint a picture of your overall health and help us understand your pain more.
2. Physical examination: We go through a series of orthopaedic and neurological tests. We also assess the functional movement of the jaw and other related body parts, looking for faulty movement patterns. Lastly, we perform a hands-on examination of the area to assess for any increased tension or muscular imbalances.
3. Treatment:The treatment will consist of a range of different manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue massage, muscle stretching and joint manipulation. The focus of the treatment will be to decrease your pain by:
· Improving overall movement and range of motion of the jaw
· Relaxing and reducing tension of affected muscles and joints
· Reducing pressure on affected nerves
· Improving the function of the neck and upper back as they relate to the jaw
4. Management plan: We will provide rehabilitation exercises as well as lifestyle education advice. This ensures that you are able to take better care of your jaw outside of the clinic and that you are aware of which aggravating factors to avoid.
If we feel your condition needs further attention, then we may refer you to your GP, dentist or specialist for added assistance.