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Can Physiotherapy Treat My Jaw Pain?



Jaw pain can be caused by one of two:

  1. jaw problem itself ie temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or
  2. referred pain from surrounding/nearby structure to the jaw

temporomandibular joint trigger point

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a general term that refers to pain and/or dysfunction of the biting/chewing muscles (medically termed as mastication muscles) which are the muscles that move the jaw up-down, side-to-side.

Usually the most important feature is:

  1. presence of jaw pain
  2. decreased mandibular (jaw) movement
  3. noise eg clicking from the temporomandibular joint especially during jaw movement

What our senior physiotherapists will do in this case is that we will assess the tightness of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as well as any tenderness/pain with palpation. We do this to determine if it's the muscle itself has been overworked and developed a sensitive/activated trigger point.

If it's truly confirmed that it's a trigger point (see below for more explanation on trigger point; refer to trigger point release therapy here), we will then start the treatment of deep tissue release that seeks to release the tightness of the trigger point. It will usually take 2-6 sessions to resolve this jaw pain, though some patients may need more sessions over a longer period of time.

What are trigger points?

Trigger points are very tight, sensitive and irritable spots in muscles are have very tight and palpable nodes in the muscle fibers. Trigger point researchers believe these nodes to be very tight muscle knots and are a very common cause of pain.

Pressure on such trigger points may cause patient to experience:

  • local tenderness (pain)
  • pain that travels elsewhere
  • local muscle twitching

Trigger point theory explains that unexplained pain are pain that are referred from other trigger points nearby.

referred pain into your jaw

If we assess and deemed that there is little to no trigger point tightness within your mastication muscles itself, then the next would be to determine if your jaw pain could be referred pain from the muscles of the face and/or jaw.

These are the muscles that can have trigger points that can refer pain to your jaw:

#1 The Sternocleidomastoid Muscle (medically abbreviated to SCM muscle)

Our sternocleidomastoid muscle is a muscle that connects:

  • sternum
  • clavicle
  • mastication muscle

together, and is located just at the front of your neck. In fact, if your SCM is very obvious, you may be able to see a pair of muscles at the front-sides of your neck that is a V-shape.

Our sternocleidomastoid muscle has the following functions:

  1. helps you bend your head forward
  2. helps you bends your head to one side while rotating the head to the other side

This is the very same muscle that also tend to get injured/whiplash if you're driving and someone drives into your car from behind.

Our SCM has two very specific referred pain patterns from active trigger points:

  1. Around the eyes, base of skill and to the jaw/jaw area
  2. Ear and forehead

#2 The Lateral Pterygoid Muscle

Our lateral pterygoid muscle is a deep jaw muscle and serves to enable

  • correct/accurate joint mechanics with jaw closing and
  • allow the lower jaw to protrude forward

This muscle can be overloaded/overactivated due to early teeth biting and pain from trigger points in this muscle is experienced over our cheeks (a bit similar to sinus pain).

If you want to, you can feel/palpate for this muscle by sticking your finger to the area behind the back of your furthest molar teeth.

#3 The Medial Pterygoid Muscle

This is also another of our jaw muscle, on the other side of the lateral pterygoid muscle.

Its main function is to lift/elevate the lower jaw eg when chewing or biting. If/when there a trigger point in this muscle, you can feel the pain inside the mouth at:

  • tongue
  • hard palate
  • throat area (sometimes)
  • jaw
  • lower jaw
  • swallowing (sometimes)


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Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and specialist rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.

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Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, and requires Hand Therapy to increase the function of their hand following injuries or post-operations and custom made hand splints.



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Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility, and breathing.

It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)



DEEP TISSUE RELEASE & SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPY

Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired , tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and shorten downtime. It also helps prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and future ruptures), and increases muscle performance. When done regularly it will keeps your muscles and you healthy and fit and have body/movement-confidence.

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Having a dedicated personal trainer/personal training helps you get faster and better health, fitness and wellness results.

You can expect better fat loss and muscle gain, have reduced risks of injury, establish effective exercise and health habits as well as overcome those annoying "flatline plateus" to breakthrough to your next level of fitness and weight loss.

All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here by location and specialization.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session. 

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

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