What could be causing your jaw pain

There are many possibilities of what could be causing the pain in your jaw, one that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed is your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In our experience when this is not diagnosed correctly by other professionals who are not trained appropriately often don’t help and can even make your situation worse. The pain can often travel from the jaw up to the back of the ear and often further up and contribute towards headaches.

There is so much conflicting advice on what the causes and cures are for jaw pain that most people spend years looking for the answer. If you think your jaw could be the issue then try to speak with someone who has had the condition themselves and is now cured from the pain. You may have received advice of “it will only last a week or so, take some painkillers and it will be fine”. However the reality is that people suffer for years with this condition which can affect all aspects of your life. 

Which Professional Should You See For Jaw Pain

Probably the most convenient person to see is your local doctor/ GP. However, they may not be the most qualified person for your condition so may refer to an ENT specialist. Lots of people visit their dentist because they may also grind their teeth. One profession that you should consider is an Osteopathy for TMJ

Generally clients see a selection of professionals who may or may not help:

      1. Doctor

      1. Dentist

      1. Massage therapist

      1. Physiotherapist 

      1. Chiropractor 

      1. ENT specialist 

      1. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

    Types Of Pain and Conditions of The Jaw

        • Only hurts on the left side

        • Only hurts on the right side of my jaw

        • All of my jaw seems to ache

        • My jaw only hurts after I yawn and I can hear a popping sound

        • My jaw hurts when I yawn and then I get a shooting pain onto the back of my ear

        • My jaw clicks and then hurts after chewing food

        • I seem to have jaw pain when I wake up in the morning

        • I start to grind my teeth and then it builds up as a pain behind the eyes

        • Every-time I open my mouth it feels like my jaw joints ache

        • The pain starts bone of my jaw and then up to my temples

      Symptoms As Described by Actual Suffers

      “I’m 22 and have had jaw problems since I was 13. No pain. On my right side it clicks softly every time I open my mouth. Every so often (once every few months) when I yawn it makes a really loud crack, some weird crackles.” Alice

      “I have pain along the whole left side of my jaw when I press/touch it, from the bottom of my jaw line to the top of my cheekbone. I also have constant headaches.” Daniel 

      “My jaw has been popping and clicking for a year now. I’ve heard of people opening their mouth too wide and their jaw completely dislocating. I’m so terrified I can’t sleep” Rachel

      “My jaw feels so tense, pretty much directly under both of my ears. I work a high stress job, manager with a ton of speaking. Sometimes I feel like my face is on fire.” Travis

      “I have been grinding my teeth for over 25 years and always wore a mouth guard and something ignited the issue suddenly. So now I am diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder myalgia. I have severe pain in my upper jaw, right cheek bone that travels down my neck, shoulder and upper back. The muscles spasm constantly and nothing works to calm them down” Cassie

      The next quote from Edward who suffers with TMD

      “In my experience, it’s been because TMJ falls across several ‘disciplines’. My GP can refer me to one specialist at a time, ie. maxillofacial consultant, physiotherapist, psychologist. My TMJ comes from a range of different things, from posture, PTSD, jaw issues from childhood, chewing as a stim as a child, etc. It kind of slips through the cracks, because unless you see a specific TMJ specialist (of which there aren’t many) you’re going to be seeing a specialist who isn’t looking at it holistically.

      So when I see a max fac surgeon, he’s not factoring in the PTSD, or the muscular issues, or anything else, and if I see another specialist it’s the same. In my experience any ailment illness problem that comes from many different interconnected sources both internal and external.. seems to be very difficult to get help for.

      The only time I’ve made any progress on pain reduction is by gathering what I’ve learned from multiple different sources and specialists, and applying it bit by bit to my life. For me, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, having regular cranial Osteopathy and Pilates stretching and strengthening exercises has helped. This has been the best year since 2013 since implementing these strategies (2022)” Eddie

      At Wellthy Clinic we treat the whole person with Cranial Osteopathy for TMJ.

      What’s the difference between TMJ and TMD?

      Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of more than 30 conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. “TMDs” refers to the disorders, and “TMJ” refers only to the temporomandibular joint itself. People have two TMJs; one on each side of the jaw.

      Treatments That Generally Don’t Work

      After treating many cases and speaking with people over the years who have problems with their jaw pain. Here is a list of treatments that don’t tend to help in the long term as they don’t address the cause of your issue.

      • Botox injections (relieves pain in the short term but is not a long term solution)
      • Mouth/ Night guards (Again these can bring short term relief but administered incorrectly can cause further problems)

      The other issue with mouth guards is that it can become financially draining when introducing branded products for treatment. 

      Treatment for Jaw Pain

      If you cannot get a satisfactory answer for the source of pain in your jaw, temple regions and/ or neck then speak with our TMJ specialist. After successfully treating many people we believe we may have solutions to help reduce the severity and frequency of your pains. We want to understand why you are experiencing your symptoms. Could it be stress which is causing you to grind your teeth. Past head or neck trauma including sporting accidents. Postural issues which are causing your jaws to work harder or nutritional deficiencies. Cranial Osteopathy is a gentle treatment but yet can produce great results. In a recent study, Cranial Osteopathy and Osteopathy was found to be an effective treatment in patients with TMD (Gesslbauer et al 2018). If you haven’t tried, it’s definitely worth giving it a try to see whether it will make a difference.     

      Matthew Glithero

      Matthew Glithero

      A Cranial Osteopath (MSCCO) who is passionate to help jaw pain sufferers. He graduated (MOsT) from the University College of Osteopathy.

      More Resources 

      References    

      Gesslbauer et al (2018) Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment versus osteopathy in the cranial field in temporomandibular disorders – a pilot study Disability Rehabilitation

      Mani & Dua (2021) Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome Stat Pearls.

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