People generally DON'T think of physiotherapy with treatment of jaw pain, or TMJ dysfunction (Temporomandibular joint), facial pain or a headache. However our combined knowledge of pain management and biostructural physiotherapy allows us to do exactly that.
Jaw pain or TMJ dysfunction can be categorised into three types: internal issues (i.e. cartilage), muscle disorders (coordination of the muscles), and sensitisation (hypersensitivity of nerves). We work very closely with TMJ specialists to ensure that the right management is applied.
Facial pain is usually to do with sensitisation, however can be contributed greatly by TMJ, neck, and headache. Lifestyle and mal-adaptive changes that may have been unconsciously learned also play a big aspect of the persistent nature of the condition.
Headache - tension, migraine, cluster, however you call it - is again to do with sensitisation of the nerves. This is very often contributed or sometimes caused by the upper neck and nerves underlying the structure. And just like facial pain, mal-adaptive changes at neural, muscular, cognitive and behavioural level contributes greatly to the condition (for some more information on typical types of headaches, you can go here).
Typical examples of cases we see
1) Gradual onset of pain and inability to open mouth for no particular reason. Often this has been preceded by clicking of the jaw, sometimes for many years.
2) Sudden onset of pain and inability to open mouth after a big yawn or opening -> felt a big "click" and it's been sore and difficult to open since.
3) A specialist has advised that there is a cartilage (or disc) that has been dislodged inside the jaw joint and getting caught.
4) A jaw has been dislocated and the pain has been persisting since
5) There is persisting pain in one of the ears (or occasionally both). It's been told by a doctor that the ear itself looks normal.
6) Headache of any kind, including migraines.
7) There is a tension-related pain on the face.
8) You've been told that you have arthritis on the jaw.