Why does my jaw hurt?

April 1, 2021

Maria Nolan

Why does my jaw hurt? Jaw pain can be caused by a problem with your TMJ or your temporomandibular joint. Some people will have a clicking jaw but no pain and this can also be unpleasant.

This joint is located just in front of your ear and connects your jaw to the skull. If the joint gets damaged or you suffer an injury to it while playing sports, for example, you can experience pain in your jaw and ear.

You are likely to have a problem with your TMJ if any of the following symptoms familiar;

  • pain under the ear behind the jaw bone
  • a clicking, popping or grinding noise when you chew
  • a buzzing/blocked sensation in your ears
  • sore or stiff jaw muscles
  • your jaw joint keeps locking
  • headaches and migraines
  • pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders and back

What causes jaw pain?

Trauma – this could be due to a blow to the jaw either directly to the joint or elsewhere on the jaw. It could also be after surgery

Bruxism – this is clenching your jaw and/or grinding your teeth, especially when you are sleeping. This puts pressure on the jaw joint and overworks the jaw muscles which causes jaw pain. Stress is very often the problem here

Osteoarthritis – this can accelerate the wear and tear of the cartilage on the inside of the jaw joint 

An uneven bite – this can sometimes happen after new fillings, dental crowns or dentures have been fitted

Other medical conditions – issues such as gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis

How do I get rid of jaw pain?

If you are having constant problems with jaw pain and issues in and around your ear, you need to see a qualified expert such as an osteopath to help resolve the problem. Taking over-the-counter painkillers can help in the short term but they are unlikely to fix the problem in the long term.

An osteopath is qualified to provide treatment for TMJ and jaw pain. They are trained to accurately diagnose what is causing the problem and will advise you on the most appropriate treatment plan.

Your osteopath may manipulate or articulate the jaw joint and massage the muscles around the affected area. Medical acupuncture (dry needling) can also be very effective in treating jaw pain.

Other help for jaw pain

Here are some other helpful tips to manage jaw pain;

  • Eat soft food as much as possible and AVOID chewing gum
  • Massage the muscles around the jaw joint
  • Do gentle jaw-stretching exercises daily. An osteopath will recommend the appropriate exercises
  • Avoid opening the jaw joint too much or clenching your teeth until your symptoms have improved
  • Avoid resting your chin on your hand

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about jaw pain, TMJ or earache please get in touch.

01491 281972 (Henley Clinic)

01635 597290 (Newbury & Thatcham Clinic)