Have you ever been to a dentist and been told that you grind your teeth at night? Or, perhaps on occasion you’ve heard a slight clicking, popping or grating sound when you move your jaw to talk or eat? Do you ever experience pain around the jaw, ear or temple? You may even have noticed your jaw locking on the odd occasion or that you struggle to open it fully sometimes?
What is Temporomandibular Disorder?
If you have experienced these symptoms in yourself, you may possibly have what is medically referred to as a Temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The word Temporomandibular sounds a bit intimidating and complicated, but there’s no need to panic! Really, it simply refers to the joint which connects the temporal bone (the side of your skull) to the mandible (your jawbone). For the most part, the joint’s main job is to allow the jaw itself to open and close (so think of talking or chewing), but It also allows for some lateral movement (think of moving or sliding the jaw from side to side, for example, when you need to equalise ear pressure on a plane!).
This all may sound quite scary and slightly confusing, but you can rest assured that if you have experienced any of these kinds of symptoms, you are not alone. A recent US study into TMD found that as few as 5% of all adults who experience such symptoms actually seek out treatment for them. Furthermore, in adults it has been found that there is an increased incidence in TMD per decade from the ages of about 18 to 44 years. Some research has even suggested that women are affected up to roughly twice as much as men, although findings from other studies didn’t always concur.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The reality is that, like many conditions, TMDs can have a number of different root causes (excuse the pun). These range from the psychosocial (high levels of stress and anxiety), to the anatomical (such as an abnormal movement of the jaw), to the traumatic (a dentist operation or a habit such as bruxism or grinding at night).
Treating TMD with Osteopathy
Well, here’s some good news (feel free to breathe a huge sigh of relief!). It is actually true that such symptoms can and do rectify themselves. Moreover, if in your case this is either not working itself out, or if it is taking too long, there are other options available to you. Many people don’t realise that their local osteopath can help them manage the pain, symptoms and frustration associated with TMDs.
Osteopathy utilises numerous gentle techniques to treat TMDs by encouraging relaxation of the jaw muscles, improving range of movement of the joint and generally desensitising the painful tissues.
For more information about how osteopathy could help with your pain, call 0300 561 0161 to speak to one of our osteopaths or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more pain-related content read: Do Women Feel More Pain Than Men?