Jaw pain relief | TMJ treatment with 4 exercises for instant success

Jaw pain, or TMD, is a common problem that can lead to neck pain, toothache, and headaches.

There are many causes for it, but fortunately, also an effective self-treatment.

In today’s post, I’ll show what my physical therapy treatment with four exercises looks like for fast jaw pain relief.

I’ll explain the causes of jaw pain and why it can cause toothache and headaches. Then I’ll show you the exercises you can do to relax your jaw muscles. Your clicking jaw will go away!

So let’s start right away.

jaw pain relief

Jaw pain treatment

The anatomy of the jaw

We call the jaw joint the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. Your jaw and your skull form the joint.

The joint capsule covers the joint. The capsule is filled with synovial fluid to reduce friction during joint movement.

Within the joint, a small meniscus, just like the one in your knee, improves the temporomandibular joint’s function. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage.

We’ve identified three muscles that close the jaw:

  • Masseter
  • Temporal muscle
  • External pterygoid muscle

We’ve also identified four muscles that open the jaw:

  • Internal pterygoid muscle
  • Geniohoideus
  • Mylohyoideus
  • Digastric

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jaw anatomy

When you open your mouth,  the first inch happens through a rotation of your lower jaw. When you open your mouth further, there is a forward translation of your lower jaw. This is the moment that you can hear your jaw clicking. That’s because the right jaw muscles pull the meniscus out of the joint. The meniscus is pulled back into the joint when you close your mouth again. We call this Temporomandibular joint dysfunction with reduction. You suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction without reduction when you cannot open your mouth further than that first inch.

Due to the capsule and ligaments that connect to the jaw from your neck, the mobility of your neck is also essential for proper jaw function.

Two muscles connect to this meniscus and force it to slide back and forth within the joint. These muscles are called the lateral and medial pterygoid muscles.

The movements of the disc are essential for proper jaw function.

Too much tightness of the muscles can pull the disk out of the joint, causing a popping or clicking sound.

You can see how this works in this video.

Jaw pain symptoms

Several symptoms show that you have jaw pain. Your teeth or muscles almost always cause pain in your jaw. Depending on the muscles affected, you will feel pain in different locations.

You can experience jaw pain on one side or both sides at the same time.

The masseter muscle causes radiating pain in your head and your temporal muscle. These muscles, therefore, cause headaches.

The pterygoid muscles cause pain in your jaw or your teeth. Also, jaw tenderness through touch is a symptom of jaw pain.

Also, difficulty opening or closing your mouth is a sign of a jaw problem and a popping or clicking sound when opening your mouth.

Jaw pain causes

Several habits can cause jaw pain. They are often stress or lifestyle related. The most common jaw pain causes are:

  • Chewing gum
  • Eating hard-to-chew food
  • Stress
  • Biting a pen
  • Biting your lips
  • Biting your tongue
  • Pressing your tongue against your teeth
  • Clenching your jaw
  • To much caffeine
  • Neck problems

All these actions cause too much tension in your jaw muscles. It affects the mobility of your jaw and causes pain.

Another possible cause of jaw pain is osteoarthritis, a very uncommon condition. Only 10% of jaw pain is caused by osteoarthritis.

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Jaw pain relief | Physical therapy treatment with 4 exercises

To relieve your jaw pain, you’ll first have to identify the cause of your jaw pain. If you don’t eliminate the cause of your jaw pain, there is no point in doing the recommended physical therapy exercises.

Often, people tend to clench their teeth when doing strenuous activities to focus more. Also, chewing gum is something that can easily be stopped.

You can also use a mouth guard against nighttime clenching. It will protect your teeth and relax your jaw muscles as well.

The most challenging problem to solve is often stress. Especially when sickness or an unhealthy marriage causes stress, it’s often hard to solve. You have to consider this when trying to relieve your jaw pain.

You can use a supplement to reduce stress, but walking is also an excellent way to reduce stress.

To reduce stress, you’ll have to improve the function of your neck and reduce the tension in your jaw muscles.

I’ll show you four physical therapy exercises to help you with this and relieve your jaw pain.

Jaw pain relief | Physical therapy treatment with 4 exercises

Jaw pain relief exercise 1: Improving the mobility of your neck

The first exercise we’ll discuss focuses on improving the mobility of your neck. Especially the upper part of your neck affects the mobility of your jaw.

Perform the exercise like this:

Wrap a towel around your neck

  • Take the right side of the towel with your left hand and the left side with your right hand.
  • Now lift the hand in front up until the towel is the same height as your cheek.
  • Now pull with your arm and the towel, your head in full rotation to the side.
  • Repeat this ten times and change to the opposite side by changing your hands.
  • Finally, grasp the towel normally, lift your arms, and look up simultaneously.

You can also see how to perform the exercise in this video.

Perform this exercise twice a day. Rotate your neck as far as you can. It might hurt at first, but that’s no problem. You will feel it improves within days.

jaw pain exercise 1 improve the mobility of your neck

Jaw pain relief exercise 2: Stretch your jaw muscles

The second exercise focuses on stretching the muscles in your jaw. As I mentioned, tightness of your jaw muscles is the leading cause of jaw pain and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

By stretching the muscles, you’ll improve your jaw joint function. It also reduces the popping or clicking sound of your jaw when opening it.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Place the index finger of one hand on the teeth at your lower jaw
  • Place the thumb of your other hand on the teeth at your upper jaw
  • Now use your fingers to open up your mouth further
  • Hold this for 20 seconds
  • Repeat it three times

You can see how to perform the exercise in the picture.

When doing the exercise, you should feel the stretch in your jaw muscles on both sides of your face.

Jaw pain relief exercise 2 stretch your jaw muscles

Jaw pain relief exercise 3: Relax your jaw muscles

The third physical therapy exercise aims to reduce the tension in your jaw muscles. The results are the same as in the previous exercise, but the execution is different.

You can relax your jaw muscles in 2 ways:

The first way is by massaging your jaw muscles at your face with this massage oil. Find the most painful spot on your jaw and massage it gently for about 20 minutes. You’ll feel the pain disappear slowly.

The second way is by squeezing your jaw muscle between your thumb and index finger.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Place your thumb in your mouth and find the muscle in the back of your mouth
  • You’re looking for the tensest and most painful spot
  • Place your index finger on the same muscle but on your face
  • Squeeze the muscle between the two fingers
  • Hold it until the pain disappears completely
  • Repeat this three times

You can see how to perform the exercise in the picture below.

Perform this exercise as often as possible for optimal results.

Jaw pain relief exercise 3 relax your jaw muscles

Jaw pain relief exercise 4: Massage your jaw muscles

The fourth exercise is massaging your jaw muscles. When you massage your jaw muscles, the tension in these muscles will disappear.

Muscle tension is the leading cause of jaw pain. Therefore, massaging your jaw muscles will relieve your jaw pain instantly.

In the picture below, you can see which area you must massage to relieve your pain.

The massage can be painful at first, but you’ll feel instant relief.

Repeat this exercise several times a day.

jaw pain relief exercise 4 massage your jaw muscles

Conclusion

Relaxing your jaw muscles and reducing stress is the best way to relieve jaw pain.

If you have any questions after reading this article, feel free to ask them by emailing me an e-mail.

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