Locked Jaw? - should I force it open?

Leigh had a client ring last month from Sydney requesting to fly over for treatment on a locked jaw since September 2015. She had seen oral facial surgeon and a physio (who only sees a few jaw clients a week – as opposed to a Jaw Physio who only see’s clients with head and jaw pain – like Leigh).

Leigh was able to reassure the client, and get her to go back to her surgeon and get an MRI and another referral to a physio who sees only jaws and head pain – phew!

This is a common story, especially with young females or people who clench and grind their teeth day or night or both. Usually the client wakes with a locked jaw or when eating something hard or yawning and it makes a big cracking sound and then won’t open. The more often it locks the longer it takes to unlock, until one day it stays locked (i.e. less than 25mm in open from tooth tips – top to bottom, or less than one fingers opening – scary hey??!!)

It is usually due to:

Displaced disc in the jaw joint (just like the spine the jaw has a disc in it), it can displace (move forwards or sideways and stop the lower jaws condyle from being able to hinge to open). Majority of cases.

Pain – rapid and severe joint degeneration and or fracture

Massive cartilage disruption that also blocks the joint.


The disc is anchored on either side of the joint by ligaments and at the back of the mouth by its own fibres (called posterior lamina fibres). If you stretch these fibres when the disc is inflamed (the acute phase), they never go back to the same length (i.e. they are not elastic), this causes irreparable damage.

So if you see a therapist / dentist / surgeon and they ask you to force your jaw open when the disc is in an acute phase of inflammation, you can do a lot of damage to this joint.

How do you know it’s acute in its symptoms –

Usually around the first 1-3 months of pain and symptoms of locking/clicking,

Visibly swollen cheek,

Lots of pain in the jaw joint and headaches.

There is no other joint in the body that Physio’s, Chiro’s, or Osteo’s will force into opening, so why would you force a very fragile and important joint like your jaw open? As an expert in this field I think it is time to say it’s not a good idea!

Most expert therapists in Jaw therapy have a few different treatment techniques that can gently get this joint to open without great force, so talk to your local jaw expert like Leigh !!

If all else fails, you can then be referred for:


Steroid injection

or Surgery

So call Leigh now on 9315 3855 for fast relief and excellent advice on all aspects of this condition.