Painful, sore and tight jaws are common symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome. In some cases, there may also be crunching, clicking or popping sounds and even locking of the jaw itself. The temporomandibular joint, is located in front of the ear where the jaw attaches to the skull. This joint involves many muscles of the cheek, jaw and neck. TMJ syndrome is commonly accompanied with tight neck and shoulders, with possible headaches and/or earaches as well.
Some common causes of TMJ syndrome are grinding or clenching of the jaw (possibly due to stress or anxiety), chewing gum, fingernail biting, dental issues or trauma to the jaw area. The good news is that treatment is available for your aching sore jaws. Over the course of a few treatment sessions, the pain and tightness associated with TMJ syndrome can be eased considerably. You may also notice reduced headaches, earaches and reduced neck tension in the process.
There are a number of different treatment modalities available to successfully treat the pain and discomfort of TMJ syndrome:
• Acupuncture – this will involve acupuncture needles in local points around the jaw area, such as tendons, muscles and trigger points, plus additional points on the body to release tension in the jaw area and reduce overall stress levels in the body.
• Massage, acupressure and/or laser therapy can help to ease the tension, which can help to loosen the jaws and provide some pain relief.
Some simple home strategies that may help to reduce TMJ syndrome are:
• Avoid opening the mouth too wide while eating, talking and especially yawning by supporting under the jaw with a closed fist.
• Stop eating hard or chewy foods and avoid chewing gum
• Application of gentle heat to the jaw area can help to relax the tight jaw muscles
• Good posture especially while sitting at the computer can reduce overstretching muscles of the neck and chin areas, which may contribute to TMJ syndrome.