Leigh at LifeCare Mt Pleasant Physiotherapy has treated jaw pain since 2008 after consulting to some of the top Dentists in London on Harley Street. After returning to Perth she is one of the most recognised Physiotherapists 'South of the River' treating this condition.
Leigh’s passion outside of work is martial arts. Many years ago when she was learning martial arts, she took an ‘upper cut’ to her lower jaw whilst sparing. This caused some cartilage damage 5 days before an important final physiotherapy oral exam! With a locked jaw she had to find a way to fix her own jaw. That was the start of Leigh’s journey to find a way to cope with a clicking jaw, and occasional locking jaw. She is still pain free and has some occasional clicking which is easily managed with gentle exercises. Yes she lives by what she teaches.
Many surrounding GP's and Dentists, Oral facial surgeons and Maxillofacial Surgeons refer to Leigh. Many of her clients visit from word of mouth from other successfully treated clients, they come from all over Perth and country regions (Esperance, Margaret River, Bunbury etc), Sydney and Singapore.
Jaw pain is very uncomfortable and can often be associated with ear pain, neck pain and face pain.
Most clients experience ‘clicking’ and/or ‘locking’ of their jaw, just jaw pain, or jaw pain and neck pain (associated with a worn out or degenerative neck joints).
Other symptoms can include ear pain, tinnitus type sounds, headaches, and grinding of teeth.
Often neck pain and headaches occur before the jaw pain. Too read more...www.jawphysio.com.au
Other common symptoms include:
- Pain on chewing, yawning or opening the mouth widely
- Clicking noises on opening and closing the mouth
- Difficulty or inability to open the mouth fully
- Locking of the jaw
Causes can include:
- Stiff neck (cervical spine)
- Direct trauma to TMJ/jaw or poor mechanics (i.e. over bite)
- Jaw muscle imbalance
- Grinding your jaw at night in your sleep.
- Poor posture
- Keeping the neck joints mobile and moving through their full range with gentle mobilisation (gentle hands on treatment, no cracking of neck joints)
- Ensuring the neck/jaw muscles are not tight and spasming
- Addressing the neck joints and muscles responsible for referring headaches
- Gentle jaw physio to make sure the joint is gliding along its correct line of movement - outside and inside (with a gloved hand)
- Exercises to help align the jaw when opening and closing with symmetry
- Exercises to strengthen the endurance muscles around the jaw
- Considerable retraining for sitting at work, poor posture quickly returns symptoms. Good posture must be checked hourly, readjustment should only take half a minute.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of problems with the jaw bone/cartilage/disc, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving of the jaw.
A good jaw physio will not give you exercises that involve chewing a cork or pen, this exercise encourages the big power muscles (Masseter) to work. We have gentle exercises that allow your endurance muscles of the jaw to thicken/strengthen and help realign the jaw, creating and equal bite and ease of movement. Clicking is very normal whilst you are strengthening these muscles and should eventually ease and stop.
The first session can be quite sore after treatment as it is a tightly spaced joint that is quite often stubborn to get moving correctly. Your physiotherapist will let you know how to dampen down the ache and it is important to speak to your physio the next day if it is still very painful. Most people only experience a mild ache for a day and then it quickly settles. The more treatments you have the easier it gets.
If you grind your jaw at night, visiting your dentist for a night guard/splint will greatly help.
If you have had your pain and grind your teeth for a long time, it might be best to get an Oral Facial Surgeon to make your night guard/splint.
Good Tips - whilst in pain avoid:
- Yawning if it hurts to do so
- Opening your mouth wide
- Testing to see if it still clicks, locks
- If your jaw locks up, try not to open your mouth up to that point
- Avoid forcing your jaw to unlock – if your jaw locks on one side, often lying on one side will help it unlock – find out which side works for you
- Sleeping on your stomach
- Working long hours
- Talking a lot
- Chew gum (very bad for jaws in general)
Good Tips - to help:
- Hourly breaks from your desk at work
- Eating soft food which is cut up into small parts
- Keep your work hours a day to 8hrs or less, especially if in front of a computer
- Regular exercise – cardio 30-60 min x3/week, stretching classes x2-3/week
- Meditation / relaxation time before going to bed to reduce grinding - the simplest exercise is visualising your ideas for the day written on a piece of paper which is scrunched up and thrown into a bin. That bin then recedes to the back of your head/brain for safe storage and recall. Keep doing that exercise until all the thoughts are written down and ‘binned’ or until you fall asleep!!
Business coach tips:
- Write down all your chores for tomorrow so your brain doesn’t have to remember them that night
- Sync your diary and phone diary with all appointments / to do lists / reminders
- Mondays – spend some time planning your week – write it down
- Each morning – plan your day, write down your chores / ideas in your diary (maybe on your email calendar).
- Analyse your life – do you need more balance,
- Don’t make other peoples issues your issues, you can help but don’t own those issues.
Download Exercises You Can Try