If you have experienced jaw pain like I have, you know it can make the simplest tasks such as talking and eating miserable.
This pain is likely coming from the Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ. Misalignment of this joint or muscle spasms around this joint is also a cause of frequent headaches, bothersome clicking, the jaw "locking up", and neck pain for many people.
For me, a trip to a specialist for this problem resulted in a prescription for muscle relaxers that left me feeling foggy and unproductive. With these side effects came temporary relief of pain, but no resolution to my TMJ problem.
If you are like me and NOT interested in taking prescription medications that keep you from driving - and basically sitting on the sidelines of life - let me share with you 5 simple ways to eliminate jaw pain naturally.
1. Take frequent breaks from sitting
Most of us spend a lot of our day sitting. This causes us to have a slumped posture, rounded shoulders, and a protruding head trying to get closer to the computer screen. This posture causes tension in the muscles on the front of our neck and under the jaw.
Without being conscious of it, we counteract this posture by clenching the muscles that close our jaw. By the end of the day, these muscles are overworked. And muscles that don't get a chance to relax get angry - and angry muscles hurt.
2. Watch what and how you eat
If jaw pain is bothering you, watch what you eat. Try to avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods for about a week to let your muscles rest.
Also, avoid stretching your mouth to accommodate too large a bite by cutting food into smaller pieces. As you would imagine, chewing gum is best to be avoided when you have jaw pain, headaches, or a stiff neck.
3. Relaxation techniques
Stress - and the teeth grinding that goes along with it - is a huge factor that leads to TMJ pain. You can start to get a handle on stress and the associated pain by finding methods for relaxation.
Yoga classes, meditation practices, and regular massages will help decrease your stress and allow your body to relax. Even taking time throughout the day to take a few slow deep breathes can stimulate relaxation and improve pain.
4. Perform Chin Tucks
By making a double chin you are doing an exercise that's called a chin tuck. This position decreases tension on the front of the neck and in the jaw. It also opens space in your neck where some pretty important nerves come out to relieve headaches and neck pain as well.
To do a chin tuck correctly, imagine your chin is sitting on a shelf and you just want to slide it straight backward. Your head should stay level and you shouldn't end up looking up or down. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds.
5. Self Massage
We think much about our facial muscles, or jaw muscles that allow us to open and close our mouth. These small muscles can easily be overworked and we hold tension in these muscles when we are stressed and clench our jaw.
A little self-massage can go a long way in relaxing them. You can find these muscles by placing your fingers in the notch of your cheekbone and apply comfortable pressure in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes. Repeat this on the temples and even further down the jawline.
Eliminate Jaw Pain Once and For ALL!
Start with these 5 tips and you will start to find some relief from jaw pain. However, if after implementing some of these tips you are still not satisﬁed with your progress then please contact our office. A doctor of physical therapy can evaluate your individual needs and come up with a tailored plan for you.
A physical therapist can perform massage techniques to help decrease tension and pain. Dry needling or trigger point release can be particularly helpful for tense jaw muscles. In addition, there is a close relationship between the jaw and the neck, so performing hands-on muscle and joint work to the neck can help reduce muscle tension in the jaw as well.
To request a call from a doctor of physical therapy, click the link below.