Phys­io­ther­apy can as­sist with pain in the jaw & face

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Mar­garita Gure­vich

Jaw and face pain can be very de­bil­i­tat­ing. The med­i­cal term for jaw and face pain is ‘tem­poro­mandibu­lar joint pain’ - sounds like a mouth­ful, doesn’t it? In fact, tem­poro­mandibu­lar joint pain which is also known as TMJ pain, is the pain which is felt in the jaw and/or the mus­cles which con­trol the move­ments of the jaw. The fo­cus of this ar­ti­cle will be on the avail­able treat­ment op­tions for jaw and face pain and how phys­io­ther­apy can help. How­ever, be­fore look­ing at this, a brief re­view of the causes and symp­toms is needed. While the ex­act cause of TMJ pain is not clear, there is ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the fol­low­ing con­di­tions need to be con­sid­ered.


ge­net­ics arthri­tis prior jaw in­jury grind­ing or clench­ing your teeth has also been linked to TMJ pain, al­though this has not been proven.


jaw pain/ten­der­ness pain in one or both tem­poro­mandibu­lar joints (the hinge-like joints which con­nect the jaw­bone to the skull) pain in/around the ears fa­cial pain pain when chew­ing dif­fi­culty with open­ing/clos­ing the mouth due to lock­ing of the joints. Some­times the symp­toms of jaw and face pain may re­solve with time with­out any treat­ment. How­ever, if they per­sist it is im­por­tant to see your GP to make sure that you have the right di­ag­no­sis as cer­tain con­di­tions can oc­ca­sion­ally mas­quer­ade as TMJ pain. If nec­es­sary, your doc­tor will re­fer you for a den­tal X-Ray/CT scan or for a TMJ arthroscopy. Once the di­ag­no­sis is con­firmed there are a num­ber of treat­ment op­tions avail­able. It is im­por­tant to seek treat­ment early to pre­vent the con­di­tion from be­com­ing chronic. Cer­tain med­i­ca­tions, such as anal­gesic and anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries, may help, as well as oral splints.

PHYS­IO­THER­APY TREAT­MENT IN­CLUDES: 1. Ther­a­peu­tic ul­tra­sound:

Most likely your phys­io­ther­a­pist will rec­om­mend ther­a­peu­tic ul­tra­sound to re­duce the pain and in­flam­ma­tion that arise from jaw and face pain.

2. Drug phore­sis:

Oc­ca­sion­ally drug phore­sis may be used, which al­lows med­i­ca­tions (pain re­liev­ing and anti-in­flam­ma­tory) to be de­liv­ered di­rectly to the jaw joint. This means that the med­i­ca­tion will not go through the stom­ach and gut, which in turn leads to lower con­cen­tra­tion of the drug and fewer side ef­fects. Re­sults should gen­er­ally be felt within a few treat­ment ses­sions.

3. Spe­cific ex­er­cises:

Once the symp­toms of jaw and face pain are un­der con­trol, your phys­io­ther­a­pist will pro­vide you with spe­cific ex­er­cises which can be done at home. These

ex­er­cises help to im­prove the TMJ range of mo­tion and strengthen the jaw mus­cles, which sub­se­quently re­sults in less pain, click­ing and lock­ing. In fact, a 2010 study con­cluded that TMJ ex­er­cises speeds up jaw re­cov­ery com­pared to splints. Your phys­io­ther­a­pist will be able to re­view and mod­ify the ex­er­cises ac­cord­ingly as you go through the re­cov­ery process in or­der to re­duce the like­li­hood of TMJ pain re­cur­rence.

Mar­garita Gure­vich is Se­nior Phys­io­ther­a­pist and uses Clin­i­cal Pi­lates, SCENAR Ther­apy & other ev­i­dence-based tech­niques, in­clud­ing Real Time Ul­tra­sound and McKen­zie Treat­ment. Mar­garita spe­cialises in sports in­juries, women’s health (in­clud­ing in­con­ti­nence) and gas­troin­testi­nal is­sues. Mar­garita may be con­tacted via her web­site.

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