Jaw Pain

Download our leaflet on Jaw Pain


The Jaw is also known as the Temporomandibular Joint. It consists of the temporal bone of the skull and the jaw-bone that moves up and down when you talk and chew – the mandible.

This joint connects the jaw to the head with ligaments, cartilage, a disc, nerves, blood vessels, lymphatics, soft tissue coverings and of course, muscles! It is reckoned that you open your mouth about 10,000 times a day!

You can feel your own TMJ move when you put a finger in front of your ear and then open and close your mouth.


As with any joint, misalignment can occur. These bony structural imbalances occur as a result of faulty posture, trauma e.g. a sport’s injury or can be congenital.

Teeth positioning also has an influence. Orthodontic treatment can also cause imbalances as can long sessions at the dentist.

Repetitive Stress: Grinding the teeth while sleeping can really cause damage! The muscles go into spasm and pain ensues. Each night, the performance is repeated so it goes on and on causing more damage. Poor alignment of the neck can also make the jaw vulnerable.

Whiplash injuries from car accidents invariably involve the jaw and may cause problems some time later.  In a whiplash injury the mouth is forced open as the head is thrust back.

The muscles of the jaw are intimately related to the muscles of the neck.


  • Pain over the jaw area
  • Abnormal sweating in jaw area, heat and/or swelling
  • Pain on chewing and talking
  • Reduced or uneven opening of the mouth
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Clicking and popping as you open and close your mouth
  • Locking of the jaw can occur due to the severe muscle spasm and so no movement is possible for seconds, minutes or more.
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Numbness in the skull or around ear area
  • Ear pain, persistent ear infections or inflammation such as ‘glue ear’.
  • Swelling over the jaw and into the face
  • Facial neuritis and/or face and cheek pain
  • Lips may be pulled up on that side
  • Eye may be different at that side

Signs and symptoms that may be caused or made worse by TMJ dysfunction

  • Neck pain that won’t resolve
  • Sinus congestion
  • Throat infections
  • Ear pains and infections e.g. otitis media
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Emotional problems e.g. depression
  • Pain in or behind the eyes
  • Balance problems e.g. Meniere’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue


A bit like your spine there is a disc in your jaw that protects the bones from constantly hitting one another. This disc can get dislodged due to muscle spasm and this causes bone on bone pain – which is excruciating.


It is possible to relieve the stress on the disc by working on very specific muscles both outside and inside the mouth. This then allows the disc to return to its proper position and do its job.

While out of position, the soft tissues become inflamed, the extra fluid causes compression. As there are vital structures passing through the area, it is not surprising that the signs and symptoms are so far reaching and severe.

Examples are:

  • External carotid artery which is a blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the brain passes through this area.
  • The temporoauricular nerve also passes – the main nerve of the jaw

Structural alignment is important – so the jaw problem may originate further down so a full osteopathic check is advised!


Remedial and Sports Massage addresses muscle imbalances, which occur when the body is continually fixed in one position (poor posture) or involved in repetitive actions – golf, tennis, piano playing, computer work, lifting, driving etc.

Remedial Massage is a treatment that can be applied specifically to help prevent an injury or the recurrence of a past injury as well as treating the injury itself.

Advanced Remedial Massage Therapists have more skills and training and they add Muscle Energy Techniques. Positional Release, Impact Therapy and more deep soft tissue work to their Remedial Massage toolbox. The aim is to bring the body into balance using specific positioning and the Client’s muscles to bring the body into balance, gently and effectively.

Advanced Remedial and Sports Massage therapists treat and educate on management techniques for back and neck pain, headaches, referred pain, overuse injuries and postural complaints.

Reflexology helps the body to heal itself. Following illness, stress, injury or disease, the body is in a state of "imbalance", and vital energy pathways are blocked, preventing the body from functioning effectively. Reflexology can be used to restore and maintain the body's natural equilibrium and encourage healing.

Organs and body parts are represented on specific points on the feet thus problem areas can be treated/worked. Relaxation benefits are to be experienced!

Osteopathy is the science of human mechanics. It is a system of diagnosis and treatment which lays main emphasis on the structural and mechanical problems of the body which affect all organs and our day to day living. We are not here just to digest, secrete, excrete, circulate and breathe but we do so much more and are so much more.

We are a reflection of our actions! Our muscles, bones, joints and ligaments adapt to the demands we make – from cycling, to running, to cooking, to working – manually or at computers, to writing and speaking. Misalignment of the spine bones causes nerve stress – the electricals that ultimately fire your muscles. We work to correct spinal nerve stress using manipulation.

The osteopath assesses and treats faults that happen due to injury, stress or other causes. We want your body to work like a fine tuned engine with the minimum of wear, tear, stress and energy, leaving more energy available for living!

The Osteopath has a toolkit of techniques which can be ‘custom built’ for all ages to attempt to sort out all of the above. The body has a natural healing ability – we work with that.

Naturopathy involves lifestyle including diet –and this advice is available too.

Please note: All these therapies work well alongside orthodox medicine as well as on their own.