Monday, February 23, 2009
Jaw pain: A Cause and Solution
Your jaw closes every time you swallow. When it's efficient, you don't even think about it. If there is a bit of muscle incoordination it will become a chronic pain site. This muscle incoordination can come about from many reasons. Any type of contact sport can lead to premature contact called interference. Ever been hit in the face? Been in a rugby scrum or had your bell rung playing football? Even just grinding at night can lead to interference.
So when you have this interference, problems occur. Your body senses this early contact on the back molars and contracts a muscle called the Lateral Pterygoid to slightly shift around the interference. As we stated early every time you swallow your jaw closes, so if there is interference, every time you swallow that lateral pterygoid muscle will contract. So you know have a hyperactive muscle.
This muscle also has influence on the disc that you have in your TMJ complex. It pulls the disc forward. Another problem arises when this muscle is hyperactive is that it can actually pull the disc in front of the jawbone. This will give you the "pop" sensation you may feel or hear when you open the jaw wide. The ligament that is playing tug of war between the disc and lateral pterygoid muscle also goes under a lot of stretch stress and can be another sight of jaw pain. This hyperactive muscle can also cause sinus pressure and pain behind the eye ball.
So the easiest way to try to calm this viscous cycle is to get the lateral pterygoid to relax. Make sure you wash your hands first! No use in getting rid of jaw pain and catching a cold. Open as wide as you can place your middle finger on the back of your upper molars. Play around with the area and slowly rub around. You will probably find many tender areas. Keep applying pressure as you slowly open and close your jaw. Do this a few times a couple times a day. It should help reset the tonicity of the muscle and stop the pain cycle.