Do you find yourself waking with a stiff, achy jaw? Does stress cause you to clench your jaw muscles resulting in jaw pain or tightness? While you work to uncover and treat the true cause of your jaw pain, these self-massage techniques may help relieve the discomfort.
Jaw pain is pain felt just in front of the ear or sometimes in your ear. It occurs when the joint in this area becomes angry due to the increased pressure. We often hear patients describing their jaw pain as achy or tight. Some even hear clicking, crunching or popping sounds when their opening and closing their mouths or chewing food.
Common causes of jaw pain
There are many structures surrounding your jaw which can have an impact on the jaw and your jaw pain. The cause of your jaw pain will differ from one person to the next. Discovering why your jaw discomfort is occurring is key to managing and preventing the pain from becoming a regular thing.
Some of the common causes we see at WBHW include:
- Tightened muscles in your cheek, neck or head
- Elevated stress levels
- Grinding or clenching teeth at night
- Long dental procedures where the mouth must be kept open
- Altered jaw position e.g. after braces or following a trauma
What you can do to help manage jaw pain
There are several things you can do to help manage and relieve your jaw pain.
Firstly, seeing an osteopath may help to determine the source of pain, help guide treatment and determine a management plan. We can also work with you to help ease the discomfort. This may include hands-on treatment, as well as exercises to do at home that are aimed to normalise your movement patterns and strengthen the surrounding areas.
At home you can try the following to help manage your jaw pain:
- Minimise chewy or very crunchy foods during an acute flare-up. You do not need to avoid these foods all the time, just when your pain is worse.
- Self-massage to the ‘chewing muscles’ of the face can help to decrease tension around the jaw. See the below video for recommended self-massage techniques.
- Stretches to the neck can help relieve tight muscles pulling on the jaw.
- Stress management can be helpful in decreasing subconscious clenching and grinding. This might include exercise, mindfulness, meditation or breathing exercises.
3 self-massage techniques for jaw pain
The following self-massage techniques are designed to help ease the tension in your jaw which is common especially when we’re feeling extra stressed or in the habit of clenching and grinding our jaws. Try these at home alongside osteopathy treatment and the above suggestions.
1. Temporalis – above the cheekbone
2. Masseter – below the cheekbone
3. Tounge muscle – below the chin