What is Jaw pain?
Our jaw joints are possibly the most used joints of the body. Active when we eat, talk and yawn, they’re fundamental to our daily lives.
That’s why the impact when something goes wrong is enormous.
The jaw joint is more formally known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It’s designed to move in complicated ways, hinging, sliding, gliding and shifting in all directions.
When a problem arises, it results in pain, clicking, grinding, restricted movement, and even locking.
If you have any of these symptoms, don’t despair. Here at Good Health Centre in Leeds, our osteopathic team are experienced in treating jaw pain, and have offered relief to hundreds of patients with all kinds of TMJ problems.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders
The classic symptoms of a TMJ problem are pain and clicking when you open or close your mouth. The joint lies just in front of the ear, but the pain can spread to the face, head, neck and even the back. Or sometimes, it can feel like toothache.
And there are a surprising number of other symptoms that can accompany a jaw problem. Some people develop headaches or feel a fullness in the throat that makes swallowing uncomfortable. Ringing or buzzing in the ears (‘tinnitus’), blurry vision and fatigue can also be linked to jaw issues. There’s even evidence to suggest tics and movement disorders can result.
This array of symptoms is due to the many muscular, ligamentous and neural connections the jaw has to the ear, head and neck.
Our osteopaths understand the anatomy of the jaw and how its function is dependent on other parts of the body. We can assess and rebalance the jaw to help it align correctly, alleviating your symptoms.
Did you know…
Problems in the jaw joint can cause many symptoms, including tinnitus, visual blurring and movement disorders.
Causes of jaw pain
Inside the jaw joint, a small disc of cartilage sits between the bones to act as a cushion. Sometimes, this disc is pulled out of position, getting stuck in the joint space. As you open and close your mouth, it pops suddenly back and forward over the top of the jaw bone. It’s painful, and you can hear the ‘click’ as the disc snaps back and forward.
There’s usually an underlying cause for this displacement. For example, the top of the jaw bone should be centrally aligned in its space in the skull. It is held in place by a careful balance in the muscles that connect to it. If some of these muscles become overly tight, the jawbone can shift in its socket, misaligning the disc and compressing the nerve that runs behind it.
Teeth grinding (‘bruxism’) can affect the delicate balance of the jaw. It’s common for people to grind their teeth at night, or when they’re concentrating, without noticing it’s happening. Your dentist might be able to see signs of tooth wear that indicate that you’re grinding your teeth.
The jaw joint is also susceptible to arthritis, which leads to jaw pain and stiffness.
How do osteopaths treat jaw pain?
Osteopaths evaluate not only your jaw, but your neck, shoulders, back and more. Jaw alignment and posture are closely linked, and posture can be a crucial factor in the development of jaw pain.
For example, if your head is shifted forward, the small muscles in the throat are tightened. These muscles pull the jawbone back and down, causing a shift in the alignment of the jaw joint.
And to counteract the pull of the throat muscles, the larger muscles of the face become tense as they work to keep the jaw bone up. This tension can lead to pain in the face and neck, and headaches.
Did you know…
The jaw joint is delicately balanced in its socket. This balance can be upset by many things, including posture. This is why osteopaths treat the whole body to improve jaw problems.
After a thorough evaluation, your osteopath will work on your jaw to release tension and mobilise the joint. They may also work more widely to rebalance muscles, enhance mobility in the neck and back, and improve posture.
Your osteopath can also suggest stretches, exercises, and self-help tips so that you get back to full function as quickly as possible.
Did you know…
An osteopathic management plan involves more than just hands-on treatment. An osteopath can support you with advice, self-help tips and exercise plans. This comprehensive approach means the benefits of treatment last long after you’ve left the clinic.
Find out more about what to expect when you visit one of our osteopaths.
You won’t have to wait. Our large-capacity clinic means we can usually offer an appointment on the day you get in touch with us. And, if there are no concerns, your osteopathic treatment begins in your first session.
Ready to get back to health? Book online today.