Keeping you moving

Jaw and facial pain

One of the most common causes is a group of musculoskeletal conditions known as Temperomandibular Disorders (TMD).

TMD is a term that covers pain and dysfunction in the muscles that move your jaw and in the joint which connects your jaw to the skull. Although TMD is not life-threatening, it can be detrimental to quality of life, as the symptoms can become chronic and difficult to manage.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain along the jawbone, in the teeth, gum, temples, inner ear, throat, neck or upper shoulder
  • Headache and/or dizziness
  • Limitation in mouth opening, locking, unbalanced jaw movements
  • Clicking, grating or clunking in the joint
  • Onset of blocked sensation, ache or ringing in the ear
  • Muscle tension or spasm in the jaw, face, head or neck
  • Abnormal bite patterns or increased tooth wear

Generally, TMD will be caused by some form of trauma to the Temporomandibular Joint or the muscles that surround it.

This may be acute, such as:

  • A blow to the face, chin or jaw
  • Whiplash, head or neck injury
  • Dental or surgical trauma
  • Overstretching or unusual bite during eating or yawning

TMD may also be caused by trauma or load over time, including:

  • Clenching or grinding
  • Radiation treatment
  • Postural stress or tension
  • Abnormal patterns of movement due to bite or dental irregularities
  • Degenerative change, e.g. arthritis

TMD may also be secondary to upper neck pain and dysfunction.

Temperomandibular Joint assessment and treatment

The treatment of TMD can be complex and multifaceted.

At Wakefield Sports and Exercise Medicine Clinic, we take a staged approach to the assessment and treatment of TMD.

  1. Thorough assessment to determine the source of the symptoms.
  2. Explanation of the diagnosis and possible treatment strategies is covered. This may cover dysfunction in the TMJ, the neck, the thoracic spine and/or posture.
  3. Local treatment to correct musculoskeletal dysfunction, and movement disorders will be carried out and may include massage, soft tissue release, dry needling, and/or joint mobilisation or manipulation
  4. Home exercises will be provided
  5. Strategies to deal with muscular or postural tension may be discussed. Liaison with GP, dentists, oral and maxillary facial specialists is often required

In most cases, TMD can be resolved or alleviated with an effective short and long-term management plan. In a few rare cases, further input from medical specialist will be required and we will be able to discuss and advise if this is the situation. No referral is necessary.