If you suffer from jaw pain, you’ll know that it can interfere with the most basic daily tasks like speaking and eating. This makes it a debilitating condition that can make sufferers feel miserable.
So if you experience regular jaw pain, then you’ll want to know about its causes, symptoms and how it can be treated.
Let’s find out more about this condition and learn how chiropractic treatment can provide relief.
Causes of jaw pain
There are a number of causes of jaw pain. The most common of these is temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known simply as TMD or TMJ. Your temporomandibular joints are the joints on either side of your jaw resembling hinges.
TMJ dysfunction may be caused:
- By an injury to the TMJ — this can be as a result of trauma to the area or if you grind or clench your teeth
- When your TMJ has been overly stimulated — for example, if you chew gum regularly
- When the disc that protects the TMJ has been displaced or is affected by arthritis
- When there’s a problem with the muscles that control your jaw
Less common causes of jaw pain include:
- Cluster headaches (headaches on one side of the head, usually in the eye area). Pain from the headaches may extend to the jaw.
- Sinus infection. The sinuses are hollow cavities in your skull, located close to the jaw. If they become infected, they may fill with mucus, which puts pressure on the jaw area.
- Dental problems such as abscesses, where pain can extend to the jaw.
- Trigeminal neuralgia. This is a condition causing pain in the area around the trigeminal nerve in your face.
- Heart attack. Symptoms of heart attack can include pain in the jaw area on the left side of the face.
Symptoms of jaw pain
Jaw pain and TMJ symptoms can present as:
- Pain or aching in your jaw area
- Jaw pain near your ear or elsewhere on the face
- Clicking jaw, with the noise coming from the TMJ area
- Your TMJ locking or feeling stuck
- Uneven appearance of your teeth or bite — this can be either as a result or a cause of your jaw pain
What is TMJ adjustment?
TMJ adjustment refers to a series of manipulation techniques that a chiropractor uses to help restore your jaw’s alignment and range of motion.
Many studies have found chiropractic treatment of this type to be an effective way to reduce jaw pain. One such study followed the progress of a 35-year-old man who experienced pain in the jaw area and a limited range of jaw movement.
It found that after a course of TMJ treatment, the patient no longer suffered from jaw pain or tenderness and there was an improvement in his ability to open his jaw.
Researchers also noted that the TMJ treatment was a great alternative to surgery, as it was easy to access, low-cost and did not present as many risks.
Chiropractic treatment for TMJ adjustment
In a typical TMJ adjustment session, your chiropractor assesses the muscles around the TMJ, the jaw and your cervical spine to assess whether there is any biomechanical dysfunction or difficulty opening and closing the jaw.
They will then use techniques including applying pressure to the muscles to manipulate, mobilise and stretch the TMJ. The chiropractor will then give you take home rehabilitation exercises and advice on reducing TMJ pain.
Don’t suffer in silence
There’s no need to suffer in silence from jaw pain when natural, effective treatment is available.
- healthdirect, 2022. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction [Online] Available at:
- Houle S, Descarreaux M. Conservative care of temporomandibular joint disorder in a 35-year-old patient with spinal muscular atrophy type III: a case study, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 2009 Dec;8(4):187-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2009.07.005.