Emma’s intense jaw pain started when she was under pressure from balancing her work and family life as a young nurse with an autistic son. She’d never suffered from severe pain like this before.
“The fact it was literally in my head, face, mouth, ear, and jaw was unrelenting. Even pregnancy was 10x easier than this.”
It gradually came on over a few weeks. She had always had some popping and clicking in her jaw by her ear, but never thought anything of it as “it was normal”. Most people have clicking, popping, grinding in their jaw – 1 in 4 have jaw alignment issues that will contribute to these sounds when the jaw moves.But these are often the warning signs of future complications. She’d felt some imbalance in her jaw for many years and had previous issues with eating on her right side in particular. Her husband had then noticed that she’d grind her teeth at night.
Another sign that underlying stress is showing a more physical form. The jaw is often where our stress builds up because of our natural reaction to clench our teeth when we are angry, worried, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Stress used to mean we were in survival mode, so we lockdown our jaw to keep it from getting ripped off. If we lost our jaw in a fight we wouldn’t be able to eat, drink, or communicate. One day she woke up and a searing stabbing pain pierced through her jaw and up behind her eye. She had to keep her mouth completely immobile or the pain would make her cry. The accumulation of everything that was going on alongside her poor jaw positioning had culminated in this pain that radiated like a migraine into her head.
Emma was referred to me by a maxillofacial surgeon because he didn’t want to operate if it wasn’t needed. I’ve been lucky that many surgeons, dentists, orthodontists, and other healthcare practitioners can spot a TMJ problem that can be dealt with by physical therapy alone.
We worked together over 4 sessions, and the pain was gone.
We did some massage work, stretches, strengthening exercises, mobility training, and more. She now has a go-to method to help ease her jaw when she feels those changes kicking in, plus a way to deal with the impact of stress on her jaw.
“If I had known, I would have looked for treatment sooner. Not being able to eat food properly, have a simple conversation, or sleep through the night was making me tired and depressed. I’m so glad I got it sorted without any need for surgery.”
80% of people don’t know that they have a jaw problem. Many times there’s no pain to give you a heads up that something might happen. The jaw is a hugely underdiagnosed area of the body that can cause so many issues:
- Sleep apnoea
- Coronary artery disease
- Headaches and migraines
- Dizziness and vertigo
Poor alignment can cause the jaw to be in a position that affects breathing, especially at night. Swedish researchers found the link between years of poor quality sleep and heart disease, stroke, reflux disease, and more. Short term it might cause aching and sharp pain, impacting normal routines such as eating, laughing, yawning, and sleeping. But long term it can cause crippling arthritis and the need for invasive surgery/surgeries, depending on the extent of the damage to the jaw joint.
Book in now for an assessment and we can tailor a treatment to your specific issue.