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Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception
Pain Jaw | TMJ pain | TMJ

Is jaw pain always a jaw issue??

Do you often wake up in the morning with a headache on either side of the Jaw?

Or maybe above the ears on one or both sides of your head?

Does your jaw click when you yawn or chew?

Do you struggle to bite into something like an apple?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, it might be time to consider jaw pain.

These are common signs associated with jaw pain. Here’s a super-quick overview…

  • Up to 20% of the population battles with jaw pain at one time or another in their life.
  • It affects women more than men.
  • Usually presents with a wide array of symptoms.

Who can get jaw pain?

Unfortunately, no one is immune to jaw pain and presents very commonly. But typically-

  • Up to 20% of the population battles with jaw pain at one time or another in their life.
  • It affects women more than men.
  • The symptoms don’t always have to be local to the jaw which means it can often go unnoticed

Jaw pain symptoms

When looking out for jaw pain, our practitioners look out for-

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw or along the bone
  • Aching or pain around the ear or into the eye
  • Difficulty or pain with chewing
  • Locking or clicking when opening of closing
  • A history of headaches
  • Uneven opening or closing of the jaw

Jaw pain doesn’t always present with pain around the jaw, it can sometimes refer pain to other areas. Sometimes, pain in other areas can refer to the jaw as well. This is why the history taking component of our consultations are so important as they give our osteopaths the whole picture about how you are moving and more information to understand your presentation.

Causes of Jaw pain

Sometimes people might have had a direct trauma to the jaw, like being crunched playing football, netball or in a basketball game (there seems to be an awful lots of elbows being thrown around in “non-contact sports”). There are direct and indirect anatomical links between the 14 bones of the skull and the jaw. Which means even a knock to the front, side or back of the head may impact the jaw.

 The jaw can be affected when other parts of the body have suffered an issue. It may be that the neck isn’t functioning well, and the jaw has to do a bit more work to help it out.   If the neck is sore for a long period of time, the jaw may have to start leading the way when turning or tilting the head, this puts extra pressure on the jaw and may result in pain.

Some previous history that might point us in the right direction are things like:

  • Dental work
  • Chin/facial/neck scars
  • Scars from stitches
  • Concussion/head knocks
  • Broken bones or bad sprains (anywhere in the body).

 We are extremely fortunate in our clinic to have experienced osteopaths who have had extra training in anatomy in motion and craniosacral therapy. This gives us the foresight to see the whole picture and not just treating pain but being able to find the cause of pain.

What is a TMJ dysfunction? Is it the same as a jaw issue?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint where your jaw bone (the mandible) meets one of the bones of your skull (the temporal bone). TMJ dysfunction is the most common cause of jaw pain!

But why is my jaw so sore on one side?

You have two of these joints – one on either side of your jaw. It may be that one of them is being affected more so than the other. This is common!

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

It occurs when one or both of these joints are not working at their best, or have become inflamed, which can be due to a variety of reasons such as:

  • Overuse of the joint
  • Tightness in the muscles that open and close the jaw
  • Degeneration or displacement of the disc that lies within the joint
  • Trauma or injury to the joint

These problems can occur as a result of many factors, including:

  • Clenching your jaw as a habit or in response to stress/anxiety
  • Involuntarily grinding your teeth while you are asleep
  • Experiencing forceful contact to the joint area

What are the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

  • Pain when opening or closing the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Pain when chewing
  • A feeling of the jaw locking
  • Aching around the cheeks, ear and eye areas
  • Ringing in the ears

Issues with the jaw and temporo-mandibular joint don’t always cause pain around the actual jaw. They may refer pain to other areas or structures nearby.

Jaw splints

What if you have a splint from the dentist but it hasn’t stopped the jaw complaints?

A splint is helpful because it can ease some of the tension through jaw muscles that are working too hard and of course it stops the teeth being from damaged from clenching or grinding. What it will not do is stop the underlying reasons why the jaw is behaving this way in the first place.

Other causes for jaw pain 

  • Cluster headaches
  • Sinus issues
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Heart Issues
  • Tooth Pain

These are all things our practitioners consider and rule out during your consultation.

Why does this matter to our Osteopaths?

Assessing the whole body and taking your medical history is super important for our Osteopaths, as it allows them to gain valuable information about what past or present factors may be contributing to your jaw pain!

Can stress cause jaw pain?

Yes! If you are experiencing stress or are feeling anxious, you might be clenching your jaw repeatedly or holding it throughout the day, causing a build-up of tension in the area. This can be a bit sneaky because we often do it without realising!

You might even be clenching your jaw right now!

If you are experiencing high levels of stress during the day, you might also be continuing to hold tension in your jaw while you are sleeping.

Should I be worried about jaw pain?

Jaw pain often ends up being associated with common conditions such as stress, teeth grinding or a knock to the face. However, sometimes the issue can be a bit more complex.

Will jaw pain go away on its own?

You might find that your discomfort naturally lessens over time. However, if you have persistent pain, it might be time to get it checked out by a professional. Our osteopaths can assess your symptoms, find the cause of your jaw pain and apply techniques to treat it!

Want to know more?

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If you are keen just to be see, you book in on our online bookings page, or call 9859 5059 and speak to reception.