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The joint of the jaw (the temporomandibular joint or TMJ) is located just in front of the ear. Problems of the jaw usually present with jaw pain over the joint (sometimes also referred down to the cheek or up to the temple), an inability to open the mouth fully and ‘clicking’ of the joint.
A number of factors can cause TMJ dysfunction and jaw pain including:
- Muscle imbalance – if certain muscles are over active and tight this can alter the proper movement of the jaw leading to pain.
- Poor posture – a slumped posture changes the position of, and increases the strain on, the joints of the head and neck, including the jaw.
- Trauma – TMJ pain is often related to previous trauma e.g. a blow to the jaw.
- Stress – stress can often lead to jaw clenching, resulting in increased tightness in the muscles of the jaw and neck.
Manual treatment and corrective exercise have been shown to be effective in the treatment of jaw pain.