There can be quite a few causes for jaw pain, perhaps the most common of which is due to problems with the Temporal-Mandibular Joint (TMJ). TMJ problems are most often caused by a muscular imbalance or tension around the joint(s), or loosening of the ligaments around the joint resulting in the disc of cartilage no longer staying between the skull and the jaw when the joint is moved. The patient may then experience pain, clicking, restricted movement and sometimes locking as the disc moves out of place.
The most common factors causing TMJ problems are teeth grinding and jaw clenching either at night or during the day. Often patients are unaware that they have been clenching their jaw as the dentist may not have mentioned anything, however it may be taking place while the patient is concentrating particularly when they are stressed. Jaw tension can also lead to neck and upper back pain and tension and headaches – so it is worth getting treated holistically by an Osteopath.
Treatment of will most likely involve soft-tissue mobilisation, stretching and joint articulation to release the powerful upper neck and jaw muscles. Sometimes treatment involves the Osteopath gently working intra-orally (in the mouth) and recommending that the patient visits their dentist to have a mouth guard fitted to reduce the effects of teeth clenching.