Jaw pain is one of the most common causes of orofacial pain, and a frequent condition that we see at Ace Sports Clinic. Although the majority of the population (85-95%) will exhibit at least one sign or symptom of jaw pain in their lifetime, 20-30% are currently experiencing a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (Easterbrook, Keys, Talsma, & Pierce-Talsma, 2019).
Our experienced Ace Certified Practitioners can help you recover from your jaw pain by performing:
- Visual and physical assessments of your jaw, neck, posture and movement to identify causative factors
- Soft tissue therapy to relieve any muscular tension, stress or spasm
- Articulation to reduce pain and stiffness whilst improving your mobility
- Advanced Dry Needling for pain relief and to minimize muscular tension through elimination of trigger points
- Provide generalized advice surrounding potential causative factors including breathing, sleep and stress
- Prescription of strengthening, stretching and mobility exercises to improve strength and movement whilst preventing recurrences
- Collaboration with our multidisciplinary healthcare team to evaluate and improve all aspects of your health and wellbeing
What types of jaw pain do we treat?
The TMJ is a complex structure that connects the jawbone to the skull, with surrounding teeth and soft tissue elements included. Collectively, it aims to navigate movements necessary for life including chewing, grinding and opening and closing the mouth. When dysfunctional, this region can provide an array of symptoms that may include:
- Clicking, popping and/or grating sounds (coming from the jaw)
- Muscular pain around the cheeks and temples
- Surrounding muscular pain (neck, upper back)
- Specific joint pain
Tension-type headaches are associated with mild to moderate pain that simulates a tight band around the head. The diffuse pain occurs on both sides of the forehead and temple area, and episodes can last from between 30 minutes to up to seven days. Muscular tension can often come from areas other than the exhibited headache, including from the jaw, neck and shoulders. Other symptoms that may indicate this type of headache include:
- Photophobia (sensitivity and pain with exposure to light)
- Phonophobia (sensitivity and pain with exposure to loud noises)
- No nausea or vomiting
- No aggravation by physical activity
A cluster headache is an excruciating, strictly one-sided headache that generally occurs around or behind the eye (periorbital). Attacks can occur sporadically from every few days to up to eight times per day. Each incident may last between 15 to 180 minutes. Pain can radiate to areas other than the eye including along the forehead, into the jaw, along the gum line, and into the ear, neck or shoulder. More specific signs that may occur along with this severe headache include:
- Miosis (constriction/minimising of the pupil)
- Ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid)
- Rhinorrhea (runny nose)
- Eyelid oedema (puffy/swollen eyelids)
Sinusitis, or a sinus infection occurs when the nasal passages become infected, swollen and inflamed. Generalized signs and symptoms that accompany this condition may include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Throat irritation and/or cough
- Sore throat and/or hoarse voice
The relentless swelling and pressure within the sinuses can give rise to pain and headaches around the jaw and cheek areas. These characteristics are often worse in the morning due to the build up of fluid overnight, as well as with any sudden change in barometric pressure.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of chronic pain that affects one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head (trigeminal nerve), but on one side of the face only. There are two forms of this disorder; the classic type (type one) and the atypical form (type two). The difference between the two types is the frequency, intensity and type of pain (see below):
- Classic type involves extreme, sporadic burning or shock-like facial pain that lasts between a few seconds and a few minutes per episode
- Atypical type involves a constant aching, burning and/or stabbing pain of a lower intensity
The association with jaw pain is linked with the location of the nerve and the aggravating factors of the condition. The nerve supplies the oral cavity, and also stimulates the cheeks, upper and lower jaw, lips, teeth and gums. Additionally, movements of the jaw and light touch can trigger this chronic condition.
Toothaches and jaw pain are two symptoms that often accompany each other. More often than not, these can be explained by infections, cavities, dental abscesses or gingivitis which all have the ability to refer pain to the jaw area. Some differentiating signs and symptoms that may lead to this diagnosis are as follows:
- Pain with chewing
- Hot or cold sensitivity
- Bleeding or discharge (around a tooth or gums)
- Swelling around a tooth or jaw
- Injury or trauma to the area
Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Although chest pain is the most common symptom, it can spread to your arms, neck, jaw and/or upper back. Therefore, awareness is paramount. Additional signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
- Dizziness and/or light-headedness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Cold sweat
What can cause jaw pain?
There are a wide variety of causes and reasons as to why you can get jaw pain, and these are often difficult to determine. Below include some of the most common explanations for this type of facial pain.
Trauma and/or Injury
Direct trauma to the jaw or teeth can create long lasting jaw and facial pain. Events such as car accidents, sporting injuries and other physical incidents can rearrange structures of the jaw both externally and internally. Additionally, internal misalignments including a misaligned bite from uneven teeth, altered jaw alignment, incorrect bite and even orthodontic braces can change the overall structure and function of the lower part of the face.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Clenching)
Bruxism is the act of excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. This type of movement is often due to a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. Feelings of stress, anxiety and frustration, or even chewing gum can commonly cause bruxism during the day. However, grinding and clenching are more common at night-time, again either due to emotional stressors or possibly even sleep apnoea.
Arthiritis & Other Conditions
Certain types of conditions and arthirtis may have an impact on the jaw, either from a muscular point of view or the joints themselves. Certain chronic and/or musculoskeletal conditions may include:
- Autoimmune Disorders
Specific types of arthritis that can have jaw involvement include the following:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
Altered posture including having a forward head carriage can change the dynamics of the body as a whole, but also more specifically of the jaw. By having the head protruding forward, it may create strain on the neck and jaw muscles, as well as place parts of the jaw (condyles) deeper into their sockets. This can present as neck and jaw pain, fatigue, popping and/or clicking of the jaw, difficulty opening the mouth, as well as headaches.
Treatment for specific jaw-related issues starts with an accurate assessment to determine the best way forward for you. Our Ace Client Care Plans are tailored to your specific needs and involve proactive treatments, the latest advice and quality products necessary to give you the fastest recovery.
Our bodies are remarkable, and when provided with the right care, exercise and nutrition, have the ability to recover from jaw pain and return to the activities we love. At Ace Sports Clinics, we work as a team to improve your quality of life and restore your freedom and ability to do what you want, when you want. Trusted internationally by the world’s best athletes, we have helped many clients recover from their jaw pain and headaches. Call to book your appointment today to see how the Ace Client Care Plan can help you.