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TMJ Jaw Pain 


What is TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)?

The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the bi-arthroidal hinge joint that connects your mandible to your skull. This joint articulates between condylar head of the mandible and the mandibular fossa of the temporal bone. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is broad term associated with the joint and muscular dysfunctions of the cranio-orofacial area. These areas commonly include muscles of mastication and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).


TMDs are primarily characterized by muscular and/or joint pain, noise in the TMJ, and restricted range of movement or irregular mandibular function. Chronic TMD symptoms that are poorly managed can considerably affect the patient’s quality of life.


TMDs are commonly seen in adults aged 20–40 years. Women are four times more likely to suffer from the TMD.

Common Signs and Symptoms:

  • A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the jaw

  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles

  • Difficulty chewing or biting (inability to clench or chew)

  • Pain in the face, jaw or ear area

  • Headaches and Earaches

  • Pain and pressure behind the eyes

  • Jaw locking (unable to close jaw)

  • Jaw Deviations (irregular jaw movement)

  • A sudden change in the patient’s dental occlusion


Common Causes:

  • The most common causes of TMD include:

  • Physical injury to the face and/or jaw

  • Masticatory muscle dysfunction, 

  • Derangement/displacement of TMJ articular disc

  • Bruxism (nocturnal grinding of teeth) & Clenching

  • Occlusal Problems: Poor bite, Asymmetrical or Retrognathic (underbite, overbite)

  • Stress

  • Poor Neck Postures


In most cases, TMDs are successfully treated with conservative management. The prognosis does depend on the cause and severity of the condition and the compliance of the patient following treatment recommendations. In less severe TMDs cases, the symptom may resolve within a few weeks.

Recent studies (Field 2012) found that 75% of TMD patients had symptoms resolve within a 3-month period with conservative physiotherapy management. In comparison, Rammelsberg 2003 found that TMD patients who elect to not receive any intervention had a significantly slower recovery process with 33% of those resolutions occur over a 5-year period.

This has been proven consistent with our clinical result with the majority of TMD patients improving within weeks of TMJ Physiotherapy treatment.

Physiotherapist & Treatment Options:

Your TMJ Physiotherapist will conduct a thorough Jaw assessment during your first appointment. The therapist may choose to prescribe the following exercise or treatment based on your assessment outcome.


TMJ exercises and treatment may include:

  • Posture improvement and neck treatment

  • Muscle lengthening or jaw muscle massage

  • TMJ joint mobilisation techniques

  • TMJ Alignment exercises (focusing on Jaw movement pattern and timing)

  • Passive, active-assisted, active exercises

  • TMJ stabilisation and Jaw Strengthening exercises

  • Dry needling

  • Relaxation Jaw Exercises


Please see our article on “Common TMJ Exercises” for common exercises prescribed by TMJ Physiotherapists.


Each TMJ Dysfunction may present differently. If you have questions the best management for your symptoms. Please consult your TMJ Physiotherapist for their opinion. 

Alternatively, you are most welcome to call us on 1300 16 16 88, Balmain Physiotherapy by Sydney Allied Health Group. Our TMJ Physiotherapists are more than happy to assist you and your patients through their recovery.

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