Woken up with jaw pain? Is that searing spasm that makes you flinch back to haunt you? Don’t worry you’re not alone. Jaw pain affects many people on a daily basis, and with the world practically swimming in sugary treats, a Physio in South Perth recently identified the top 5 most common causes of jaw pain. Getting your jaw pain under control can be difficult, but with the right help, you’ll be gnawing corn off the cob before you know it. So what are the experts saying about these causes and what are the best treatment options?
If you’re reading this you probably didn’t just break your jaw
Unless you’re immune to all pain, a broken jaw isn’t the sort of injury that leads to a casual google search. If you’re unfortunate enough to have broken your jaw you’ll remember the intense pain that it caused, a trip to the hospital, and a long recovery. All broken jaws should be treated as emergencies, symptoms often including intense pain, numbness, bleeding, and swelling. A medical professional will be required to ensure the jaw is in place before your recovery can begin.
Toothache: the bane of your sweet-tooth
One of the most common causes of jaw pain is a toothache. Without trying to sound like an overly concerned mother, things like candy, chocolate, and sugary drinks are bound to increase the risk of cavities, cracks, general decay, and sensitivity. Sometimes extreme temperatures aggravate toothache – like when you bite into ice cream and you experience spasms or sensitivity. Treating toothache symptoms at home is worth a try first. Here are some basics:
- Try a saltwater mouth rinse to disinfect the area.
- Apply a cold compress like an ice pack to the affected area. This will help relieve inflammation.
- Avoid tough, sugary foods for a while.
- Visit a dentist at your earliest convenience if symptoms persist.
What is Temporomandibular joint pain?
Don’t try pronouncing this one if you’re straight out of surgery. Temporomandibular joint pain, or TMJ for short, is when this double-hinged joint connecting the jaw to the skull is irritated by jaw-grinding, arthritis, muscle tension or misalignment. This can result in swelling, muscle spasm, irritation, and pain.
Treating TMJ: cover all your bases
Think it’s toothache, see your dentist! But don’t let that be your only port of call. Consult a physiotherapist to identify other causes of your jaw pain as there are several that they can help with. Their treatment options can go a long way in rehabilitating your jaw.
Trouble chewing? It could be PsA
If you’re unable to chew through your breakfast without swelling and pain, you may have what is called Psoriatic Arthritis or (PsA). This autoimmune disease attacks joints throughout the body and the jaw is no exception. It causes jaw inflammation, swelling, pain when eating, chewing, or speaking. In more severe cases it can even disrupt sleep.
Luckily doctors are well equipped to deal with these issues, but early treatment is advised, as leaving it longer will make it harder to treat. If you’re after a quick at-home remedy, try plenty of rest and ice compresses, and remember to avoid tough, chewy foods.
My jaw pain always comes with a headache
This is called referred pain. Headaches can often cause pain around your eyes, and temples but can easily spread to the jaw. You’ll want to get a physio for jaw pain that will improve blood flow to the area through manual manipulation or dry needling therapy.
Tips for a quick recovery
First up, don’t get excited about eating croutons. At least for a little while. If you’ve had surgery, then you’ll be on a strict diet afterward so stick to that. Generally, you’ll want to steer clear of anything that will put pressure on your jaw. Remember recovery is about rest and healing. Here are some jaw enhancing tips that’ll speed up your recovery:
- Reduce stress levels through yoga, meditation or just taking time off a busy schedule to rest.
- Cut out chewing gum (for a bit). Again, just don’t do tough, chewy foods, they’ll only make it worse.
- Try cutting caffeine and see if it reduces stress and tension. You might be surprised.
Catch it early – you’ll thank yourself later
When it comes to jaw pain and diseases relating to the temporomandibular joint, you’re going to want to seek professional help. Home treatments are fine to a point but when they are no longer have the desired impact and the pain becomes too much seek professional advice. Catching pain early is important not only to determine the source but to ease symptoms more effectively. Having a trusted physio for jaw pain is always a good idea if you want a swift recovery.