Jaw Pain - Temperomandibular Disorder (TMD)

TMJJaw pain or tempomandibular dysfunction (TMD) can occur for many reasons, one of the big ones being stress and jaw clenching – so the “festive season” seems to be an apt  time to be discussing this topic given so many of us are under enormous stress levels at this this time of year (top tips to deal with this later in the article)!

TMD is a term used to describe pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw) and the tempomandibular joints (TMJ) (joint which connects the jaw to the skull). 

Symptoms of TMD include – full or blocked ear sensation, clicking, sand paper sounds, headaches, difficulty chewing, yawning and pain.

About 20-30% of the adult population are affected by some degree by TMD and usually affects people between the ages of 20-40 years of age. It is more common in females than males. It is the second most common cause of orofacial pain after dental pain. 



The TMJ is made up of 2 joint cavities and their structures. A small disc sits in the joint. There are two basic movements involved in opening and closing the jaw: rotatory/hinge movement and translation/sliding movement). TMD could be associated with recurrent strain to these structures, osteoarthritis of the joint, or with disc displacement. Postural issues can also cause TMD. The posture of the head on the neck can affect the orientation of the jaw joint, and therefore loading of the joint and the muscles that surround the joint, resulting in pain. 

What can you do about it?  Our TOP TIP to get you through Christmas – keep the tip of your tongue resting on the top of your mouth – you can’t clench your jaw at the same time!

However, for successful treatment, a thorough assessment from your physiotherapist will help to determine the cause of your jaw pain and they will work with you to correct and manage the pain. Miriam is a musculoskeletal physio here at Physiologix with a specific interest in all things neck and head. Think you have TMD issues – book in and see her and get rid of that aching jaw.  Massage can also give incredible short term relief – all our remdial massage therapists at Physiologix can help you with this.