The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw bone to your skull and is located directly in front of your ear. Pain in this region can be the result of postural deficits, stress, bad habits, and acute injury to the jaw. Symptoms are often recognized as pain with chewing, jaw stiffness/locking, and painful popping or clicking when opening/closing the jaw. In most cases, TMD resolves quickly and independently, but in other cases additional guidance is required to reduce pain and improve jaw function.
Helpful Hints to Relieve Jaw Pain:
- Correct posture especially in unsupported seated positions.
- Reduce stress levels.
- Place your jaw in its resting position (Say “Emma” – this word in particular puts the jaw in a completely rested position.)
- Use a warm compress on the joint to relax jaw muscles.
- Limit bad habits – reduce clenching of the teeth, avoid biting your nails, and limit gum chewing.
- Avoid overuse of the jaw – reduce intake of chewy foods, limit yelling and yawning.
If you continue to have pain, physical therapy helps to relieve discomfort by improving jaw alignment through manual work, modalities, and exercise.