What Can I Do To Help My Jaw Pain? Low-Risk, Simple Ideas You Can Try

By Dr. Chelsea Savage PT, DPT, OCS

By the time patients come in to see me for their jaw pain, they’ve usually had pain for awhile and have concerns such as, “Why won’t this pain go away if everyone says my jaw/teeth/neck is fine?” “Is something seriously wrong with my neck or jaw?” or “Will I always have this pain?” I enjoy treating patients with neck, jaw, and facial pain because sometimes we can easily answer these questions and ease months of worry and fear through a simple postural discussion and assessment. 

Spoiler alert! Yes, your poor posture can contribute to your neck and jaw pain. If the head has slid too far forward, strain is placed on the muscles that go from the neck to the jaw. This in turn places stress on the tempromandibular joint itself. If this position is sustained, muscles can become tight and dysfunctional (think tender/painful to touch) and can even radiate pain up or down to other places, such as to the jaw or eye.

To assess posture, we start from the foundation and work our way up. Your shoulders should be positioned over the hip joint, which puts the spine in an optimal position. Ideally, your ears should be in line with the shoulder, which places the head squarely over your shoulders. This is a simple discussion that we have during the first appointment, but oftentimes it takes practice and coaching over several weeks to create and master a new habit. This also leads into a related discussion about the ideal position of the jaw and tongue, but I’ll leave that for another time! Stay tuned.

While posture may be a big component of your jaw pain, that might not be the case for everyone. Each case is unique and our initial physical therapy evaluation is complex as we analyze your biomechanics, joint mobility, motor control, and customize a treatment program specific to your specific issues. Starting with simple postural adjustments at home based on this post is a great way to get started on some self-treatment that is very low risk.

For specific exercises and education, it’s important to make an appointment with your physical therapist for an evaluation to determine your individual needs. We also have great relationships with our local dentists and can refer as needed.  Call any of our three locations to get started: North Indy/Carmel (where I practice), Fishers, and Zionsville. You can also click here to request an appointment!

CAUTION: Jaw pain also can be a symptom of heart attack. Seek medical care immediately if jaw pain is accompanied by:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Left arm pain
  • Numbness in the left arm
  • Nausea