Is Jaw Pain Putting a Frown On Your Face?
Jaw pain, or TMD (tempero-mandibular disorder), is a common disorder affecting greater than 10 million people in the US; and affecting women more than men. If you experience headaches, neck pain, ringing in your ears, tenderness around your jaw, decreased mouth range of motion, or your face feels tired you could have TMD.
Did you know that tightness in your “chewing muscle,” or Masseter muscles, can cause jaw pain? This is often corrected with an expensive injection of Botox into this muscle, which is located in the very sensitive area of your cheek. As Botox normally lasts only 4–6 months, you will often need multiple injections. Recent research suggests that a manipulation of the upper cervical spine (neck) can produce the same results by inhibiting the Masseter muscle, thus allowing it to relax. As a result of decreased tension in the Masseter muscle, you will experience decreased jaw pain and improved joint mechanics in your jaw, which could possibly lead to long term jaw pain relief.
What can YOU do to reduce jaw pain?
- Be aware of you posture, especially when sitting at a desk or computer.
- Avoid hard or chewy food
- Avoid repetitive chewing, such as chewing gum
- Avoid clenching your teeth
- Avoid smoking
Considering the jaw is one of our most used joints (eating, talking), TMD can lead to a debilitating disability if not treated. If your jaw pain persists, be sure to find a physical therapist that specializes in manipulation of the cervical spine to assess if you would benefit from this treatment.
A physical therapist can perform a full evaluation to determine the cause of your jaw pain, and design a specific therapy program to help resolve your symptoms.