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Can Physiotherapy Help My Jaw (TMJ)?

Physiotherapist treating TMJ dysfunction

Your jaw or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is one of the most used joints in the body. Its most important function is for eating and speech, and it is the only joint in the body to have a rigid end-point of closure - clenched teeth.

When you start to experience concerns within your jaw it is known as Temporomandibular Dysfunction, and this may or may not always be associated with pain. Other common symptoms that are reported in the clinic and are associated with TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Reduced range of jaw motion

  • Grinding or clenching of teeth especially at night

  • Clicking or popping

  • Difficulty biting into hard foods

  • Inability to clench the jaw shut

  • Neck pain

  • Tinnitus

  • Headache

Physiotherapist treating neck and back pain

Causes of Temporomandibular pain and dysfunction is multifactorial and can include but not limited to:

  • Stress

  • Poor neck and midback postures

  • Muscle imbalances of the jaw and neck

  • Displacement of the articular disc within the joint

  • Overbite or underbite

  • Whiplash

  • Direct trauma to the jaw

  • Dental work

How can Physiotherapy help?

During a consultation with a Physiotherapist, you can expect that they will take a detailed history and perform a thorough assessment to determine the source of your TMJ pain and/or dysfunction. It is not uncommon that it may be in fact referring from your neck. Therefore, it is important to investigate how much of your symptoms are mechanical, meaning influenced by postures, movement and muscles and how much of it is more a local issue. We expect to see change within 3-5 Physiotherapy sessions, however if symptoms persist further investigation and a referral to a specialist may be required.

Physiotherapy treatment techniques can involve spinal and TMJ mobilisation, soft tissue massage, trigger point dry needling, posture correction and advice. Alongside patient education we provide our patients with pain reductive stretches, prevention strategies and self-massage techniques. Understanding the behaviour of your pain, contributing factors, and knowing why and what to do yourself is very beneficial in achieving a successful recovery.

If you are experiencing jaw or TMJ pain or dysfunction, click here to download the Oral Behaviour Checklist. If you notice you’ve ticked a lot of boxes that are all the time or > 4-7 night per week, we recommend getting assessed by one of our experienced Physiotherapists or another health professional. Please call (02) 9436 2565 or book an appointment online.


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