Shop 5/453 Fullarton Road,
Highgate Adelaide,
SA 5063

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Friday: 7am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8am - 1pm

TMJ Physiotherapy: A Holistic Approach to Jaw Pain Management

range of motion TMJ assessment

Do you feel frustrated and embarrassed by your jaw pain? Do you feel self-conscious and anxious in social situations? Do you have trouble sleeping because of bruxism and constant pain? Is jaw soreness affecting your work performance?

If your pain has been getting progressively worse or isn’t getting any better, and you’ve tried other over-the-counter remedies without success, it’s time to get a professional assessment by a qualified physiotherapist. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for TMJ dysfunction; we have skills, and knowledge and are motivated to help you fix your jaw pain.

Physiotherapy treatment for jaw pain and TMJ disorders includes rehabilitative exercises, dry needling, soft tissue massage, and specific advice to reduce pain and restore full jaw function. We’ll assess your symptoms and determine the cause of your jaw pain, then develop an individualized treatment plan for you.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or the jaw joint as it’s commonly known, is the most used joint in the body. We use it for eating, breathing, speaking, and even laughing and smiling! Resultantly, when things can go wrong as they can with any joint in the body, it can have a huge impact on our daily lives.

Things that might indicate your TMJ (jaw) is the culprit for your symptoms include:

  • Pain in the jaw, face, teeth, or in the ear (TMJ pain can feel like ear pain)
  • Difficulty opening your mouth widely
  • Clicking or locking
  • Teeth grinding
  • Eating difficulties/changes
  • Temporal headache
  • History of jaw injury

There are 3 main categories of jaw pain:

  • Articular pain (pain originating primarily from the joint)
  • Myofascial pain (pain originating primarily from the muscles and fascia)
  • Complex pain with multiple contributing factors including sleep quality issues, poor posture and neck issues, stress, tongue posture, psychological & social issues, and breathing issues.

There is also another category, nerve pain, which is much less common than the aforementioned three.

Often, one or more of these categories can coexist, and the management will differ between them. This is why it is extremely important to seek a thorough assessment and professional advice to ensure you get the treatment and rehabilitation that is right for you.

What causes jaw pain?

Common causes of TMD can include (but are not limited to) direct trauma to the face or jaw (such as a sports injury), increased stress, dental procedures such as removal of wisdom teeth or orthodontic work, and teeth grinding. Teeth grinding/clenching, also known as bruxism, can commence as a result of a problem with the TMJ as well.

If you happen to be suffering from any of the above symptoms, you could benefit from seeing one of our experts in the field of TMD.

The TMJ is a specialised area and not all physios have the skills to treat it effectively. You will be in great hands with our Physios Esther and Giancarlo who both have extra qualifications and many years of experience in this field.

What a TMJ Physio session looks like:

  • A detailed history of your issue to determine the exact cause of your jaw pain.
  • A thorough assessment of how your jaw moves to determine where the restrictions are and where your pain is coming from.
    • The muscles you chew with are a very common cause of jaw-related symptoms. Your physio will assess these muscles by feeling to see if there is more tension than there should be.
  • TMJ treatment includes targeted, gentle mobilisation of the affected structures, remedial massage and/or dry needling to affected muscles (a very effective treatment for the majority of jaw-related issues), home exercises, and education about your condition.
  • You’ll get a detailed personalised plan that addresses all the contributing factors to your jaw pain and outlines how you can make lasting improvements.
  • Most importantly you will be given the tools to keep your recovery pushing forward outside of the session.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy targeted at the jaw can be extremely effective, even in chronic cases.

Does teeth grinding / clenching (bruxism) contribute to jaw pain?

Yes, it definitely can. All the tissues in our body can tolerate a certain amount of loading. We know that our jaws already have large workload day-to-day, so adding in additional load throughout the day or at night with clenching or grinding can cause the structures in and around the jaw to become overloaded, sensitive, and painful.

There are two types of bruxism, primary and secondary. Primary bruxism has no known cause, therefore treatment involves protection of the teeth with a splint (usually made by a dentist), as well as treatment of symptoms from a physiotherapist.

Secondary bruxism, or bruxism caused by something else, can have many contributing factors, including:

  • Alcohol & caffeine consumption
  • smoking
  • Sleep disorders (sleep apnoea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome)
  • Airway obstruction
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Drugs/medications.

A thorough history, undertaken by your TMJ Physiotherapist, will highlight which of these areas may be contributing to your bruxism and formulate a plan to address them.

Our TMJ Physiotherapists:

To get fast and effective pain relief and a long-term solution to your TMJ problem, click the button below to book with our TMJ Experts (Esther and Giancarlo). Or call our friendly staff at the clinic on 8490 0777 for more information.

Address the root cause of your jaw pain with our tailored TMJ physiotherapy program

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