It’s estimated that between 5-10% of people experience jaw pain from joint dysfunction (TMJ strain). While some of these cases may not be musculoskeletal in origin, they will always cause extra pain in the muscles associated with the joint. Osteopathic treatment can help to relieve strain in these muscles. It can also be good for increasing the range of motion in the TMJ joint which can help you open your mouth wider.
Symptoms of jaw pain
Pain can be felt around the jaw joint or along the lower part of the jaw bone, the face around the jaw joint, inside the ear, or into the head.
Other symptoms associated with jaw pain include
- Locking or clicking of the joint with opening or closing of the jaw, pain with chewing
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Sinus pain
- Neck pain
Causes of jaw pain
There are many causes of jaw pain and osteopaths can help manage the musculoskeletal causes of the pain. The muscles that control jaw function can become tight or weak. This is often related to neck dysfunction and teeth clenching due to stress and anxiety.
There is a disc inside the joint that, when its not positioned correctly, causes the clicking that can sometimes happen in a jaw.
The inside of the jaw joint can become dysfunctional due to wear and tear that can result in clicking and locking. Trauma to the face and head can also cause jaw pain.
Side affects from dental work can result in jaw pain, this can be due to having your mouth open for a long period of time. Other causes of dental trauma can be having teeth removed, root canals, etc. causing an asymmetry in the face, jaw, and upper neck. Braces and orthodontic work can cause jaw pain, as the face and head have to adapt to changes to straighten the teeth when they are adjusted.
Some other cases of jaw pain can be related to sinus congestion/infection, ear infection, toothache, headaches, and trigeminal neuralgia (nerve pain in the face)
Osteopathic treatment for jaw pain
The osteopaths at the Brisbane Osteopathic Centre use a very gentle technique called cranial osteopathy. This technique involves gentle balancing movements of the bones, muscles, and ligaments and is well suited to treat jaw pain. Our osteopaths will look at how your jaw is moving, the position and imbalance that might exist between the two bones that make up your jaw joint i.e. the mandible (the bone in the lower part of your face and temporal bone).
Our osteopaths also examine and treat any dysfunction in the muscles of the throat that affect your jaw, the vertebra in your neck and upper spine, and the bones in your head and face. Dysfunction in the lower spine, pelvis, and leg length imbalances can also contribute to jaw pain due to the rest of the body having to compensate all the way up to your jaw.
If the cause of jaw pain is due to ongoing orthodontic work then osteopathic treatment throughout this process may help alleviate pain and dysfunction as the dental arch changes.