Jaw pain can be a nuisance and disrupt our daily lives as it can impact chewing, talking and yawning. There are various reasons for jaw pain and knowing the cause of yours can help us find out how to manage your condition
What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)
The TMJ, or temporal mandibular joint, is the name for your jaw joint. We have two TMJs, one on either side of our ears. The joints enable us to open and close our mouths, allowing us to eat, talk, and move our jaws. When the jaw does not function properly, it is known as TMJ dysfunction. There could be tight muscles, loose ligaments, or disk involvement that hinder jaw mechanics. The symptoms can be short-term or long-term, depending on the mechanism of injury as well as how the joint is treated. TMJ disorder can often be managed on one's own, and surgical intervention is typically considered only as a last resort. TMJ symptoms are self-limiting if the condition is correctly diagnosed and treated. The appropriate homecare with therapies to help relieve and manage pain can aid in the management of TMJ disorders.
What causes TMJ dysfunction?
● The mid back, shoulders, neck, and mandible (jaw) are misaligned.
● Muscles in the neck and chewing muscles are tight. We have neck and jaw-toning muscle groups that reside within our mouths.
● Bruxism- the grinding of the teeth at night or due to stress, causes overloading of the joint and surrounding muscles.
● Post dental work- The excessive force placed on the joints might harm our muscles, forcing them to tense and limiting our range of motion in our mouth, which affects our talking and eating.
● External trauma to the joints - such as automobile accidents or sports-related injuries.
● The TMJ is not a weight-bearing joint, any excessive strain on the joint will cause dysfunction.
How We Take Care of Your Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)
With an integrated team of Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Registered Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists and Kinesiologists, we have you covered for your jaw-related problems.
Seeing different practitioners can be helpful as there may be various reasons for your jaw pains. Treatments in a multidisciplinary clinic can help address underlying issues from multiple aspects.
A combination of different treatments can include:
● Soft tissue manual therapy on intra and extra-oral (inside and outside the mouth) chewing muscles to address muscle tightness and trigger points
● Stretching and exercise to manage between treatments
● Chiropractic jaw adjustments to help with stiff joints in the jaw
● Acupuncture and massage therapy to decrease stress in the jaw area
● Guidance with the use of heat application and techniques of eating foods that are smaller and softer
If your condition does require further testing or treatment, we can refer you to one of the trusted specialists that we have in our network.
What does Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD) Feel Like?
● The sides of cheeks and jaw are sore and tight
● Gum pain
● Chronic headaches
● Shoulders and neck tightness
● Chewing, eating or talking causes discomfort
What To Expect During Your First Visit
Meeting with a practitioner for the first time can be a little intimidating. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.
We want to understand what is troubling you so we can treat you effectively. Know that whatever you disclose will be held with the utmost confidentiality.
Upon meeting your practitioner, they will:
● Go through a brief interview process to understand you and your condition
● Share their thoughts and what we can do about your condition
● Provide you with homecare, either an exercise or modification, to complement the treatment
Baseline has taken steps to ensure that all of us are as safe from Covid as possible. We have a pre-screening questionnaire, and we ensure that everyone wears their protective equipment. In between patients, we take the time to properly clean all surfaces that may have been used so that the next patient is safe.
You don’t have to live with jaw painTo summarize, jaw pain is common but manageable. Despite there being various reasons why someone can have jaw pain, finding the right modalities and practitioners can help you address the underlying problem and decrease symptoms.
If you resonate with any of these points, give Baseline a call or go online and book an appointment with one of our practitioners.
Written by: Lorrisa Deng, Vancouver Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)