A lot of people experience chronic jaw pain. This can be due to stress, posture, clenching/grinding, a recent dental experience, or a host of other factors. Sometimes it is “all of the above”.
Often this pain is felt at the side of the jaw, right where the joint is. It’s usually more severe on one side. And quite often this jaw pain is associated with pain in the upper part of the neck, jaw clicking, or with stress headaches. A typical case of TMJ pain will also have recurrent headaches and neck pain, with tenderness and muscle pain at the top of the neck where the skull and neck muscles come together.
Quite often people know what the problem is: stress. Maybe you’re one of the people who can’t seem to get your shoulders to relax and feel like you’re always carrying tension in your shoulders. That same muscular tension, and emotional stress, turns into jaw pain soon enough.
Just like that jaw pain and dysfunction is the result of excess tension, the way to address the problem is by working to reduce the tension.
Emotional tension: it’s out of your chiropractor’s control, for the most part, to regulate your emotional response to triggering events and circumstances of your home life, your kids, your job or relationship. But talking to your chiropractor can sometimes be enough to start to make that tension melt away. As we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives, just having someone listen to you and discuss things can go a long way to getting past something that is bothering us. Maybe you don’t even know something’s bothering you but then you talk about it and identify the problem.
Physical tension: this is definitely something your chiropractor can address. Whether it be work posture or ergonomics or a physical injury to the jaw (like a long visit to the orthodontist or dentist, or some other oral task), the muscles and the joints involved in opening and closing your mouth can be worked on at Park Bench.
A typical therapy session for the TMJ involves a few things.
- Upper cervical chiropractic adjustment – this is aimed at relieving the pain and pressure in the neck that co-occurs with jaw pain. This can also go a long way to alleviating tension headaches.
- Manual therapy for the muscles of the jaw and neck – this targeted trigger point and massage work can be uncomfortable, especially if your jaw already hurts, but firm pressure at specific muscles combined with some gentle jaw movements can significantly decrease pain levels quite quickly.
- Advice on continuing care at home – stretches, exercises, or simply “cues” to help you keep things copacetic. Quite often if you can retrain yourself to notice when you are engaging in an unhelpful habit, maybe your clench your jaw when you use the computer, then you can stop those things before they cause pain. Or maybe you just need to recognize when stress is getting the better of you and learn to let it roll off instead of internalizing it.
If you think your jaw could use some work then give us a call or stop by today and chat with us. At Park Bench we are experts in manual therapy and in treating joint disorders.