Jaw pain typically comes from the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which acts like a sliding hinge and connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain in the joint and muscles that control the movement of the jaw. The cause of TMJ disorders are often hard to determine. The pain can exist for many different reasons such as arthritis or jaw injury. Some individuals who experience jaw pain also have a habit of clenching or grinding their teeth. However, there are many people you habitually clench their teeth and don’t develop any type of TMJ issues. Most people with TMJ disorders manage their pain with self-care and non-surgical treatments. However, very severe cases of TMJ might require surgical repair.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Aching pain in or around the ear
  • Discomfort or difficulty chewing
  • Facial pain
  • Locking of the joint which makes it difficult to open or close your month
  • Pain associated with clicking of the joint when opening your mouth or chewing

If you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw you may want to seek help from a doctor. You may also consider seeing a doctor if you can’t open or close your jaw completely. When experiencing TMJ problems you can see your doctor, dentist or TMJ specialist and they can determine the right treatment for you.

TMJ disorders can occur if:

  • The disk erodes or moves out of alignment
  • The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
  • The joint is damaged by injury or impact

Medications may help relieve pain along with other types of treatments. Doctors might suggest over-the-counter medications, prescription pain relievers, muscle relaxants or sedatives. Other types of treatments include: bite guards, physical therapy, biofeedback or botox.

If you are experiencing TMJ problems you might:

  • Avoid overuse of jaw muscles by eating soft foods, cutting food into small pieces, avoiding sticky or chewy food and avoiding chewing gum
  • Stretching and massage can also help strengthen your jaw muscles
  • Applying warm, most heat or ice to the side of your face can help relieve pain

Once again, Chiropractic and Active Release Technique can help reduce the pain and discomfort of jaw pain, restoring function and relieving tension in muscles and ligaments.

Mayo Clinic (2014). TMJ Disorders. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/basics/definition/con-20043566