TMJ pain causes are numerous. TMJ dysfunction (jaw joint), sinus infections and dental disease are the most common causes of jaw pain.
In particular, Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) is the abnormal motion of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your TMJ is the most common cause of persistent jaw pain, clicking and popping, or a lack of jaw motion. TMD can also cause jaw headache.
TMJ disorder most commonly results in orofacial or jaw pain, jaw headache or a clicking jaw. If your jaw clicks, locks open or closed, grates (crepitus) or is painful, you almost certainly have a TMJ disorder.
Jaw pain has traumatic causes such as a broken jaw, dislocation or dental surgery. Chronic movement patterns can also cause it, teeth clenching grinding or poor jaw habits, e.g. leaning on your jaw.
Several health professionals may assist your TMJ dysfunction or jaw pain. Professionals include your dentist, orthodontist, dental prosthetist, oral maxillofacial (OMF) surgeon, or a TMJ physiotherapist.
What Is Each Health Professional Strengths?
As a general rule, your TMJ health professionals will focus on the following:
- Review you bite and may prescribe a bite plate to assist jaw occlusion (closing) over weeks or months.
- Attend to your general dental care
- Review you bite and may prescribe a teeth alignment techniques, e.g. braces assist jaw occlusion (closing). Period: months to years.
- Unnatural teeth only
- Review your bite and may prescribe or modify your denture to assist jaw occlusion (closing) for weeks or months.
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Review your TMJ and may offer surgical correction to assist jaw function for weeks or months.
- Patients tend to be acute trauma patients, e.g. broken jaw or chronic TMJ sufferers.
- TMJ physiotherapists have additional training in TMJ motion and its correction.
- They will assess the origin of your jaw headache, clicking, locking or jaw dysfunction.
- Review your TMJ motion:
- Increase jaw mobility where stiffness exists.
- Relax hypertonic muscles.
- Dynamically control excessive motion where hypermobility exists.
- Normalise TMJ motion via specific exercises where abnormal movement patterns exist.
- Analyse and correct the influence of your neck posture and motion on your TMJ function.
- Period: weeks to months. Researchers have found that 75% of conservatively managed TMJ treatment will succeed within three months. Another study found that 33% will spontaneously recover over five years.
TMJ physiotherapists have additional training and professional skills in the assessment and management of TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain. PhysioWorks has several physiotherapists with a particular interest in TMJ dysfunction.
FAQs about TMJ or Jaw Pain
What is the PhysioWorks Difference?
Friendly & Caring Service
One thing that you'll notice about the PhysioWorks team is that they are very friendly and caring health professionals. We know that sometimes pain or injury can make you a little less tolerant, so we've trained our healthcare team always to greet and treat you like they would a family member or best friend.
Thorough & Unrushed
Everyone should be entitled to individualised professional care. That's why we book longer initial appointments to ensure that your unhurried first visit will include a thorough and individualised assessment of your injury or problem. This extra time, then allows us to discuss your short, medium and long-term goals and treatment options before commencing your rehabilitation.
You'll find that your PhysioWorks healthcare practitioner is not only a great listener, but also an excellent treatment planner to focus on your efficient and effective treatment outcome. After all, that's why you have chosen to see us in the first place.
What is the Aim of Your Initial Consultation?
Because we do spend more time than most physiotherapists thoroughly assessing, by the completion of your initial consultation, we should be able to determine and inform you:
- What exactly is your problem
- Why you are experiencing pain or dysfunction etc
- What you can be doing to correct it
- How long it will most likely take to recover
- How to prevent a future recurrence
Your Tailored Treatment Plan
Your physiotherapist will design a specific treatment program specifically for you based upon your examination. Your treatment may include hands-on treatment, such as joint manipulation, mobilisation or massage. It will probably also include lots of helpful advice and home exercises. We'll also use other technology or treatment tools depending upon your needs.
Your treatment will vary depending upon your age, sex, sport, work requirements or lifestyle, so generic therapies tend to be effective than specifically targeted treatment plans.
As highly-trained exercise prescribers, your physiotherapist will usually instruct you on specific exercises and stretches for you to undertake at home to assist in your rapid recovery. We'll also offer you some helpful advice to help ease your pain, such as the appropriate resting positions or whether to use heat or ice and precisely for how long.
The result is prompt pain reduction, quicker natural healing and your successful return to full activity, whether it be work or sport, as soon as possible.
How Long is Your Physiotherapy Appointment?
Allow at least one hour for your initial physiotherapy session. Subsequent treatments are usually 30 to 60 minutes in duration. Your physiotherapist will inform you if additional or less time is required. Complex or multiple regions may require a longer consultation. Our receptionist will happily book an appropriate appointment for your clinical needs.
Do You Need a Referral to Consult a Physiotherapist?
A doctor's referral is not required to see a physiotherapist in private practice unless you are claiming a work injury (e.g. Workcover), or some other insurance claims. Department of Veterans Affairs patients will require a doctor referral. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or you are planning for your treatment to be funded by an insurance company, it is good practice to consult your GP for a referral.
What About Private Health Insurance?
A proportion of treatment costs is rebatable under all higher table private health insurance schemes. The private health insurance rebates do vary considerably depending upon your specific coverage.
What is HICAPS?
PhysioWorks is linked to the HICAPS electronic health fund system so you can instantly claim your rebate at the time of treatment. You'll need to present your health insurance card to our receptionist.
Who is a Physiotherapist?
Your physiotherapist is a university-trained medical professional who uses a natural and physical approach to restore, maintain or optimise your physical and psychological well-being. This will enable you to perform and enjoy your chosen sport, work or everyday activities. In simple terms, your physiotherapist is a health mechanic for the human body.
During a physiotherapist's university training, the study of the human body anatomy, physiology and movement biomechanics, particularly the muscle and joint system. This deep education understanding, helps your physiotherapist to not only diagnose health conditions but also to utilise hands-on techniques, educational advice and exercise prescription to resolve your problem.
Physiotherapy is a science-based methodology that is continually evolving as new research discovers better ways to treat your body. Your physiotherapist will use their extensive knowledge of the human body and highly-trained skills to help restore your aching, stiff and dysfunctional muscles and joints to health.
Physiotherapists at PhysioWorks are highly skilled in numerous niche areas of physiotherapy. These include sports and exercise physiotherapy, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, ergonomics (workplace wellness), vestibular, jaw and headache dysfunction. Plus, women's health, to name a few.
When Should Diagnostic Tests Be Performed?If your symptoms continue to persist despite treatment, it is appropriate to return to your physiotherapist or doctor for further evaluation. Other causes of pain should be considered, and perhaps X-rays or other studies (MRI, CT scan, bone scan, or pathology studies) may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis.
What is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, help patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help to encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing activities of daily living while assisting them to remain functionally independent.
There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.
Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management
Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:
- Joint Mobilisation (gentle joint gliding techniques)
- Joint Manipulation
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Minimal Energy Techniques (METs)
- Soft Tissue Techniques
Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, just to name a few.
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.
Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in the field of acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.
Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.
- Muscle Stretching
- Core Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.
Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.
Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy skill to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.
Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.
Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.
Plus Much More
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your individual problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.
What If You Delay Treatment?
Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning or are recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose. Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.
What Exercises Should You Do?Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Please take caution with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better. Thus simply isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person. You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.
What Happens When You Stop Exercises?Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures are inadequately supported and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage. It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific for your needs. The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.
Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you just stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it was working? We would hope not! Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work of you don't take it as prescribed by your health professional. So, next time you skip your "exercise dose" just remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please contact your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.
Private Health Insurance Rebates
PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for the majority of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.
However, Private Health Funds do vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover that you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.
HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims
Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system. Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. For more information, please visit Hicaps for the latest funds which can use their instant claiming system.
Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.
- All Private Health Insurance Funds including BUPA, Medibank Private, HCF
- For a full list of Hicaps instant claim funds see here: Hicaps Funds
- HCF More for Muscles Program
PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies including:
- Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
- Department of Veterans' Affairs
- CTP & Sports Insurers