Jaw pain or temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a group of disorders that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw, ear, face, and head. These disorders can occur after injury, stress, or without an obvious cause. They often occur with clicking and locking of the jaw. Some common temporomandibular disorders include:
This is pain and tightness in the chewing (or masticatory) muscles that operate the jaw. Myalgia is common in people who clench their teeth, chew gum, or experience high levels of stress.
Physiotherapy can help myalgia by massaging the masticatory muscles, dry needling, prescribing exercises to reduce tension in the jaw, and providing relaxation techniques.
The temporomandibular joint (jaw) contains a cartilage disc that helps to cushion the joint when you chew. Occasionally this cartilage disc moves and can cause clicking and locking in the jaw. This is problematic if the click becomes painful, or if the jaw locks due to obstruction of the joint.
Physiotherapy can help by mobilising the jaw joint to reduce pressure on the disc, reducing tension in the muscles surrounding the jaw, and prescribing exercises to reduce the clicking. It is important to note that it is unlikely that the clicking will go away entirely.
This is pain from the jaw joint itself. Pain is usually in front of the ear, in the ear, or in the temple. Eating is often painful. Pain can be from the joint surfaces, the internal joint structures, or the surrounding ligaments.
Physiotherapy can help arthralgia by giving advice regarding a soft diet, prescribing exercises that offload the joint, and massaging or dry needling the jaw muscles to reduce tension. Therapeutic US to the jaw may also aid healing.