Causes and Treatment of Jaw Pain

“I never knew PT could help my jaw!” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that! Most people are not aware that there is a conservative treatment option for head, face, and jaw pain, and it can be as simple as finding a Physical Therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD), or as it is commonly referred to, TMJ issues. Here are some of the more common causes and treatment of jaw pain.

Categories of TMD

There are 5 main categories that patients suffering from TMD issues can fall into:

  1. Dental or tooth problem
  2. Muscle pain or disfunction
  3. Joint pain or inflammation
  4. Disc disorder
  5. Combination of any of the above

What a TMD PT can do

While a trip to the dentist would be recommended to help rule out a tooth or dental issue, an evaluation by a TMD PT can help further assess the other categories. During the evaluation, we can assess possible causes of TMD. Some of these include:

  1. Dental malalignment (occlusal fault)
  2. Grinding
  3. Clenching
  4. Bruxism
  5. Stress and anxiety
  6. Trauma or injury (falls, blow to the head, face, or neck, car accidents, sports-related injury, etc.)
  7. Poor posture
  8. Parafunctional and Lifestyle factors – examples include
    1. Nail biting
    2. Gum Chewing
    3. Stomach sleeping
    4. Resting your jaw on your hand
    5. Chewing ice or other chewier/harder foods consistently
  9. Pain refers to the face by trigger points in the head or neck
  10. Muscle tightness
  11. Sinus infections or pressure
  12. Diet
  13. General hypermobility
  14. Joint degeneration and inflammation

No matter the cause, early intervention is key. It is important to seek care if you begin to experience pain in your head, neck, or jaw, or if you notice limitations in your ability to open your mouth or chew food. During treatment sessions, we can begin joint mobilizations to reduce inflammation and improve joint mobility, as well as soft tissue massage to reduce muscle pain. 

We can also educate you on self-care strategies, as well as a comprehensive home program to give you the confidence and freedom to return to full, pain-free function!

Schedule your appointment with a Freedom TMD PT today!

Mike specializes in manual therapy techniques, evaluation and treatment of the spine and TMJ/craniofacial pain, mobilization techniques, and intramuscular dry needling. Mike played college hockey for St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.