WHAT IS A JAW STRAIN OR SPRAIN?
Just like any other area of the body, muscle strains or ligament sprains can happen around the jaw.
Jaw sprains and strains can begin as a small issue but if left untreated, can become a chronic and longstanding issue.
A jaw strain happens when muscle fibres cannot cope with the demandsplaced on them. This could either be a powerful muscle contraction or repetitive use of the jaw.
When the muscles are not able to handle the stress, it can lead to tearing of muscle fibres. Muscle strains are divided into 3 grades of severity based on the amount of muscle fibres torn.
A jaw sprain happens when ligaments surrounding the jaw are stretched through a larger range than usual.
The stretching causes tearing of the ligament fibres.
Ligament sprains vary from mild to severe based on the number of ligament fibres torn.
WHAT CAUSES A JAW STRAIN OR SPRAIN?
- Hyperextension of the TMJ
- Lengthy dental procedures
- Intubation during a surgical procedure
- Trauma to the jaw
- Hard or sustained chewing
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A JAW STRAIN OR SPRAIN?
- Muscle stiffness
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
- Neck pain
- Decreased jaw range of movement
- Jaw tenderness
- Change in joint function
- Jaw clicking or locking
WHAT WILL TREATMENT FOR A JAW STRAIN OR SPRAIN INVOLVE?
Depending on the degree of strain or sprain and the location of injury, treatment will vary. Physiotherapy treatment may involve:
- Individualised home exercise program to improve jaw function and range of movement, manage stress, and improve posture
- Gentle jaw movement
- Ice or heat therapy
- Re-education and retraining correct jaw mechanics
- Correcting habits such as chewing and teeth clenching and grinding
- Referral to your General Practitioner (GP) for pain relief
- Night splint from the dentist – this works in similar ways to wearing a supportive bandage for ankle injury