Physical therapy for jaw pain can involve a variety of techniques aimed at reducing pain, improving jaw mobility, and increasing muscle strength and endurance. Some common physical therapy techniques for jaw pain include:
- Stretching and range of motion exercises to increase jaw mobility
- Soft tissue massage to relieve muscle tension
- Heat or cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling
- Ultrasound therapy to improve circulation and promote healing
- Electrical stimulation to improve muscle strength and reduce pain
1. Stretching and range of motion exercises to increase jaw mobility
Jaw mobility can be increased through physiotherapy exercises that target the muscles and joints involved in jaw movement.
Stretching and range of motion exercises are effective in improving the flexibility and function of the jaw, reducing discomfort, and reducing the risk of injury or complications.
- Jaw opening and closing exercises: Open and close your jaw, gradually increasing the range of motion as you go. You can also try side-to-side movements, as well as circular movements.
- Tongue press exercise: Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth and press down gently. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise several times.
- Lip puckering exercise: Pucker your lips as if you were going to kiss someone. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise several times.
- Jaw stretch: Hold the jaw open with your fingers, and gently stretch the jaw by tilting your head back. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise several times.
- Mouthpiece exercise: Use a mouthpiece designed for jaw exercises to improve the strength and mobility of your jaw. This device is inserted into the mouth and creates resistance as you open and close your jaw
2. Soft tissue massage to relieve muscle tension
This type of therapy involves the therapist manually manipulating the soft tissues in and around the jaw, such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. By doing so, the therapist can help to relieve muscle tension, improve blood flow, and reduce pain and discomfort in the jaw.
3. Heat or cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling
Heat therapy is usually used to relax the muscles and increase circulation to reduce pain and stiffness. A warm pack or hot water bottle can be applied to the jaw for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Cold therapy is used to reduce swelling and numb pain. A cold pack or bag of frozen peas can be applied to the jaw for 10-15 minutes at a time, several times a day.It’s important to alternate between heat and cold therapy to avoid overuse or over-stimulation of the area.
It’s also important to seek professional advice from a physiotherapist to determine the best approach for your individual case
4. Ultrasound therapy to improve circulation and promote healing
The jaw area is often used in physiotherapy for jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or jaw pain.
Ultrasound therapy works by sending high-frequency sound waves into the affected area. These sound waves penetrate the skin and tissues, increasing the temperature and circulation in the jaw.
The increased blood flow helps to reduce inflammation and swelling, promote healing, and relieve pain.
5. Electrical stimulation to improve muscle strength and reduce pain
Electrical stimulation, also known as TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), is a common physiotherapy treatment used for the jaw muscles to improve strength and reduce pain.
The treatment involves applying electrical impulses to the jaw muscles through electrodes placed on the skin. The electrical stimulation stimulates the muscles, causing them to contract and relax, which helps to increase their strength over time.
The stimulation also blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain, reducing pain and discomfort in the jaw area.
It is important to work with a physical therapist who has experience in treating jaw pain, as a poorly designed treatment plan can make symptoms worse.