Jaw Pain Treatment: Can Management Such As Chiropractic Help TMJ Dysfunction?

The jaw, or as it is referred to in anatomical terms – the temporomandibular joint is essentially a hinge joint between the jaw and the lateral aspect of the skull that allows for large degrees of movement. This movement gives your jaw the ability to move forwards, backwards, upwards, downwards aswell as laterally. The TMJ is the most used joint of the human body, moving thousands of times every day as we talking, yawn, chew, swallow and although some of us won’t admit…snore.

General signs you’re suffering from TMJ dysfunction include muscle tightness around the face and jaw, headaches, ear pain, neck pain and stiffness, vertigo, dizziness, jaw clicking/locking/grating, inability to open your mouth normally, difficulty talking/chewing and even ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

The causes of jaw pain and TMJ dysfunction are wide ranging and may include direct trauma, injury, whiplash, dental procedures, bruxism (teeth grinding), TMJ arthritis, stress, anxiety, jaw misalignment, TMJ disc problems, TMJ dislocation and muscle tightness.

Proper assessment of the temporomandibular joint must be performed by a practitioner that is trained to do so. A comprehensive assessment includes:

  • Thorough case history review
    • Reviewing your case history involves an active discussion with your practitioner to enable them to gain a better understanding regarding your problem. Typical questions range from aggravating activities/factors, when the problem initially presented and if there was a specific event that occurred to cause this as well as other specific questions that the practitioner feels are necessary
  • Neurological assessment
    • If clinically indicated, a neurological assessment may also be performed
  • Physical examination
    • Due to the close proximity that the jaw has with the skull and neck a physical examination will also involve inspecting and palpating these structures to assess whether they’re contributing to your TMJ disorder
    • Specific examination of the jaw involves palpating soft tissues of the face (muscles of mastication) assessing pain, tenderness and tonicity, palpating of the TMJ articulation, muscle strength and jaw range of motion
  • Orthopaedic examination
    • Orthopaedic tests allow the practitioner to rule in or rule out particular problems


Whether you have been suffering TMJ pain for only a short or long period it is an extremely challenging problem to treat. Having said that, there are a variety of fantastic techniques which we use in our Cranbourne Chiropractic clinic that are safe, effective and result proven for TMJ dysfunction

  • Manual TMJ manipulation is very similar to traditional Chiropractic techniques involving the spine, however it is specifically applied to the jaw joint to restore normal position, alignment, movement and reduce pain and tenderness
  • TMJ joint stretching & mobilisation is a gentle technique designed to improve restricted movement
  • Gentle Activator methods uses a hand held instrument that is specific for the Chiropractic profession. Patients often refer to an Activator as the ‘clicker’ as it makes a characteristic clicking sound when used. This instrument is extremely gentle
  • Massage techniques to both inside and outside of the mouth assist with releasing tension and pain


  • Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction improved following specific jaw pain treatment via Activator methods Chiropractic care. DeVocht, J., & Long, C (2003). Chiropractic treatment of Temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument: A prospective case series. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, 26(7); 421 – 425
  • Symptoms including bilateral ear pain, tinnitus, vertigo, altered hearing acuity, headaches and jaw pain improved following temporomandibular joint and upper cervical spine Chiropractic management. Alcantara, J., Plaugher, G (2002). Chiropractic care of a patient with temporomandibular disorder and atlas subluxation. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, 25(1); 63 – 70
jaw pain treatment