TMJ and face pain

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Did you know that TMJ the more common name for TMD temporomandibular dysfunction is very commonly associated with face pain, in particular TMJ symptoms often mimic sinus type headaches? With true sinus headaches  there is usually a discharge from the nose and additionally the pain becomes much worse as you bend your head downwards. Many of our clients have been to see ENTs (Ear, Nose and Throat specialists) and come away frustrated as the ENT has found the sinuses clear with no obvious cause for the face pain. Some have even had repeated rounds of antibiotics or sinus surgery to no avail. The jaw muscles running along the cheeks  in conjunction with the with the jaw joints themselves  will cause referred pain along the cheek line, mimicking maxillary sinus pain or  face pain along the cheek line. These jaw muscles also refer pain to the lower teeth and may result in unnecessary root canal treatment.

The temporal muscles running along the side of the head around the temple region are powerful jaw muscles used during chewing, clenching and grinding. These muscles will also refer pain to the temple, mimicking tension type headaches. The temporal muscles will also refer pain to the teeth, and cheek regions.

When there is inflammation in the jaw joints, your body will adopt a forward head posture as a way of reducing the pressure on the jaw joints. In other words your body tries to get away from the pain. For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. This places considerable strain on the neck muscles which connect at the back of the head. When these muscles become too strained they can cause tension type headaches at the back of the head, and referred pain to the front of the head, mimicking frontal sinus pain, pain in the ears, pain the face and also cause eye pain.

Additionally long term TMJ can cause the cranium (bones around the brain and face) to become jammed which can then cause face pain and headaches. This “locking” of the cranium is known as cranial dysfunction.

So if you have face and head pain that is not going away it’s important to have a comprehensive evaluation for possible jaw and cranium dysfunction. Please note the strained ligaments in the face also cause face pain as well as postural compensations due to issues in other areas of the body, but that’s to be discussed another time!

Contact us on 03 9417 4038 for an appointment if you have any ongoing issues with face pain