Clicking – “My Jaw is out of Whack!”
Does your jaw click when you open it? Do you feel like you can’t open your mouth as wide as you used to be able to? These may be signs that you have some dysfunction going on in your jaw specifically what is called your Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ. This joint is the connection of the jaw to your skull and can become painful for many people.
Quick anatomy lesson; the jaw sits into a socket in the skull that it rotates within. Between the jaw and this socket is an articular disc that helps to cushion the two as well as promote normal mechanics. This region can get inflamed and become irritated that can lead to pain. The disc can also stop moving as it normally should; when you open your jaw this disc is supposed to slide forward and then back when you close it. But it can get stuck forward when you open your jaw all the way and snap back to where it should be when you close your jaw all the way and this is the “cracking” or “clicking” sound you hear when you close your jaw. This can cause repetitive microtrauma over time that will lead to further damage to the joint and disc.
This clicking may actually go away over time and the pain decreases but that may actually mean that the disc is no longer able to come back to its normal position and it is stuck forward. This is usually accompanied by not being able to open your jaw as wide because the disc is essentially now in the way. The surfaces of the joint are now also in closer contact with each other and this can lead to greater microtrauma and joint degradation over time.
This pain and altered movement mechanics can also cause the muscles around it to become tight, or hypertonic, which can lead to headaches and clenching of the jaw. This cycle can build on itself to where it becomes a more chronic problem. Thankfully this cycle can be broken and intervened with things like joint mobilization of the jaw to normalize mechanics, soft tissue mobilization of the tight and locked down tissue around the joint and addressing other components of the neck and head like cervical spine mobility and posture. Additional treatments can include things like dry needling to help alter the pain response around the area as well as target deep muscle tissue.
This condition is most commonly seen in females between the ages of 20 and 40 and poor postural control has been linked to an increased strain on the TMJ. Repetitive over usage such as people who chronically clench their jaw and habitually chew gum have also been shown to increase risk and altering these behaviors can have a good effect on pain reduction.
If you’re still battling pain you can’t seem to shake and this problem is limiting you from doing the activities that you LOVE, give us a shout today at 561-899-8725 or email us directly at Team@AthleteRC.com we can directly diagnose what the problem is and how to solve it together for the long-term.
Imagine getting that pain fixed – allowing you to really get after your workouts and do the activities you LOVE most in life. We can help solve this problem for you.