Understanding Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJS): Relieving Jaw Pain

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJS)?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. It facilitates essential movements for speaking, chewing, and yawning. When this joint is impaired, it leads to a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJS).

What Are The Symptoms and Causes Of TMJS

The most common symptoms of TMJS are:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw area, particularly near the ear
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to fully open or close the mouth
  • Facial/jaw or ear pain or headaches, often radiating to the neck and shoulders

There are many causes of TMJS but the 4 most common causes we see are:

  1. Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Clenching or grinding teeth, particularly during sleep, can strain the TMJ and surrounding muscles.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Psychological factors can contribute to jaw clenching and muscle tension, exacerbating TMJ symptoms.
  3. Trauma or Injury: Direct impact to the jaw, such as a blow or whiplash injury, can damage the TMJ.
  4. Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect the TMJ, causing inflammation and pain.

How Physiotherapists Treat TMJ

Physiotherapists employ various techniques to address TMJ symptoms and improve jaw function:

  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques such as massage, mobilization, dry needling and stretching can alleviate muscle tension and improve joint mobility.
  • Exercise Prescription: Specific exercises target jaw muscles and promote relaxation, strength, and flexibility.
  • Posture Correction: Poor posture can contribute to TMJ dysfunction. Physiotherapists assess and address posture-related issues to relieve strain on the TMJ.
  • Modalities: Therapeutic modalities like heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.

Physiotherapy Treatments May Include:

  • Soft tissue massage to relax tight muscles and knots around the jaw
  • Gentle mobilization techniques to improve joint mobility
  • Postural correction exercises to alleviate strain on the TMJ
  • Education on relaxation techniques and stress management strategies
  • Needling to help release tight muscles

3 Home Exercises You Can Do:

1. Jaw Relaxation Exercise: Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and slowly open your mouth as wide as comfortable, then close it. Repeat this movement several times, focusing on relaxing the jaw muscles.

2. Resisted Jaw Opening: Place your thumb under your chin and gently push downward as you try to open your mouth against the resistance. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 5-10 times.

3. Chin Tucks: Sit or stand with good posture. Gently tuck your chin in toward your chest, keeping your eyes level. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 10-15 times.


Remember, consistency is key when performing these exercises at home.

To learn more on managing TMJ and improving jaw health, visit our website or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physiotherapists for individualised treatment and advice.

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Phyx. Physio + Pilates Google Reviews

peter choipeter choi
02:44 28 May 24
I had a great experience with Veronica this week. She provided fantastic assessment and treatment which relieved my longstanding L arm pain immediately after the first visit. Thank you so much for your great support.
Kaytee GKaytee G
04:53 13 Apr 24
Great 1st time experience! Very thorough. Listened to my concerns and have established a treatment plan! Staff are all very lovely! Would recommend!
Alan BenfellAlan Benfell
03:06 10 Nov 23
If only giving 10 stars were an option here. I first attended Phyx almost 4 years ago for a niggling pain that after a few visits came good. Then after an injury about a year ago with pinched nerves causing radiating pain in the shoulder area, I returned to visit Phyx again. I started with hands-on physio treatment and then added some one one-on-one Pilates sessions with the physio and now on to group Pilates classes. The hands-on treatment is great as the physios really listen, focus on what you're saying, and are obviously highly skilled to rectify tricky problems. My GP and specialist told me surgery was the only answer, but so far with the treatment from Phyx we're proving that wrong.From day one the team has been amazing, and very professional. Everyone is so polite, friendly and welcoming. Especially making a bloke feel comfortable in fitting into Pilates classes that are generally considered to be a "Ladies' thing". Let me just say, get in there guys it really is a full workout. Thank you all very much.
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01:30 18 Oct 23
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06:41 18 Feb 23
Absolutely amazing service and friendly staff. They helped me with my issues! I would highly recommend the service which the have to offer. Thank you so much
Trudy GreenTrudy Green
07:41 16 Feb 23
So far I have only had the Physio consultation and have booked into my first Pilates class which will be soon (this is why I have only put 4 stars). The Receptionist was friendly and the Physiotherapist was very thorough and also friendly and I felt comfortable asking any questions. She took me into the studio and showed me a few exercises. I am looking forward to starting my classes soon.
Maddison MellowMaddison Mellow
07:29 28 Jul 21
The team at Phyx are amazing!! From the moment you are greeted at the front desk you are treated with genuine care and kindness. I've been going to Phyx for treatment on a back/neck issue and I am so impressed with the results. The physio team are very knowledgeable, professional and are only interested in achieving the best outcomes for their clients. I also love their pilates classes - they are physio-led and suit anyone, from beginners to elite level. Highly recommend Phyx! 🙂
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