Temporo-mandibular Joint pain / TMJ Pain



TMJ or temporomandibular pain is a common problem affecting the joint connecting the jaw and head. At Core Body Clinic we have been using physiotherapy to treat temporomandibular pain for many years and with great success. There is hope!  TMJ pain can range from an annoyance to a very debilitating condition and seeing a physiotherapist is the right thing to do and is recommended with the support of scientific evidence.  


The TMJ is composed of many parts: the mandible bone, lower jaw, and the temporal bone or Maxilla. In between the mandible and the socket is a disc. The disc is a very smart structure because it allows the joint open and close with a combination of sideways, up, down, and sliding motions. Surrounding the joint are muscles and ligaments and the TMJ is also supplied by nerves and therefore can be a source of pain.  Because of the location and innervation of the nerves the TMJ refers pain into the jaw, teeth, side of head, face, eye and even the neck.  It can be very unpleasant.  

When we assess a patient with TMJ pain we often find: reduced jaw movement, tenderness around the muscles of the jaw, limited neck and upper spine motion with loss or uneven motion of the upper spinal joints. People often grind their teeth so the muscles are very tired and fatigued with lots of tender trigger points. Its important to diagnose the areas that are causing the pain so that treatment can be effectively targeted. 






Where do you feel TMJ Pain?

  • Pain in the jaw joints and facial muscles
  • Clicking, grinding (bruxing/bruxism)
  • locking of the jaw
  • Headaches & Dizziness
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth comfortably
  • Pain on talking, chewing (especially hard food) & yawning
  • Ear pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) & hearing loss


What Causes it?

  • Trauma direct to the face/head
  • Poor neck, back and head posture
  • Weak neck, shoulder and back muscles
  • Recent illness
  • Wisdom tooth pain or dental pain altering jaw mechanics
  • Injury when chewing or overuse
  • Opening you mouth for too long and too wide
  • Arthritis
  • Stress which causes teeth grinding.

I have a Headache and grind my teeth. 


How is it diagnosed?

  • Signs and symptoms
  • Diagnosis by a Maxillofacial surgeon or Dentist
  • Xray/Scan


What can physiotherapy do for Temporomandibular pain?

  • Assessment and correction of posture
  • Work with your dentist who will likely provide a mouth guard
  • Provide manipulative and hands on treatment for pain
  • Improve muscle strength
  • Corrected alignment of spine and jaw
  • Release muscles that are in spasm
  • Teach correct mouth opening and closing
  • Apply preventative treatment 


What techniques are used to treat temporomandibular pain?

  • Manipulation of the jaw and spine
  • Trigger point release
  • Focus Shock Wave Therapy
  • Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Relaxation
  • Stretching


If you are unsure if physiotherapy for temporomandibular pain is the right choice just drop us a line or email the clinic.  We suggest booking an initial assessment for us to firstly assess your jaw pain and then start sorting it out.