Jaw
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​What is TMJ?
The jaw is also known as the TMJ or temporomandibular joint. It can be painful as the result of injury, inflammatory disease, poor postures and habits or growth disorders.

TMJ is made up of several parts - the lower jaw (or mandible) and the socket (or temporal bone). In between the mandible and the socket is a disc. The disc allows the joint to glide smoothly on opening and closing. The joint is also held in place by muscles and ligaments.
 
Signs and symptoms
Pain is the most common symptom of TMJ problems, although not everyone gets pain. Symptoms can include:
  • Pain the jaw joints and facial muscles
  • Clicking, grinding and locking of jaw
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Difficulty opening or closing mouth comfortably
  • Pain when talking, chewing (especially hard food) and yawning
  • Ear pain, ringing in the ears and hearing loss and yawning
Causes
There are a number of causes, usually it is a combination of these rather than a single cause:
  • Trauma, for example a blow to the jaw either directly to the joint or elsewhere in the jaw
  • Over activity of the jaw muscles. This can occur from continuous clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Wear and tear of the cartilage inside the joint
  • Arthritis
  • Increased sensitivity to pain linked to stress
Aims of physiotherapy treatment
  • Relief pain
  • Minimise stiffness
  • Restore normal function and mobility
 
Advice
  • Apply heat or ice for 15-20 minutes on the area of pain
  • Painkillers
  • Massage the joint and surrounding muscles
  • Exercise your jaw regularly on your physiotherapist's advice
  • Be aware when you are clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Change to a soft food diet and avoid hard and chewy foods
  • Cut tough food into small pieces
Avoid
  • Excessive chewing (for example chewing nails, gum, pen tops and your cheek)
  • Excessive mouth opening (for example when you're yawning)
  • Resting your jaw in your hand and holding your telephone to your ear using just your shoulders
  • Sleeping face down, as this puts a strain on your neck
Posture correction
Bad posture in sitting or lying causes prolonged over stretching of the ligaments and surrounding tissues including those of the jaw.

By learning to keep a good posture, it is possible to prevent or relieve your neck and jaw pain.
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