Temporomandibular Disorders (TMJ pain)

A specialist physiotherapy option for people with TMJ disorders (Jaw). Treatment may use a combination of massage, joint mobilisation, and ,specific exercise techniques – aiming to reduce pain and restore your function.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint is a complex structure containing muscles, tendons, and bones. Injury or disorders to these structures may result in pain in the jaw area.physiotherapy edinburgh, physio, tmj, tmj physio, physiotherapy

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders or TMD and are very common in the general population. The majority of cases they are usually caused by muscular pain, which is known as “myofascial pain dysfunction”. However in other instances, the cartilage and ligaments may be at fault, which is referred to by the term “internal derangement” of the TMJ.

Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorders

Symptoms vary from person to person, however below are the most common issues report when suffering from temporomandibular joint pain

  • Clicking, popping or grating noises - as you chew or move your mouth
  • Muscle pain around the jaw
  • Pain in front of the ear - this may spread to the cheek, ear and temple
  • Difficulty opening the mouth – the jaw may feel tight, as if it is stuck, making eating difficult
  • Headache or migraine
  • Earache or a "buzzing" or blocked sensation in the ear

These symptoms may also lead to related symptoms, such as disturbed sleep.

Potential Causes

There are a number of mechanisms, traits or habits that people often do which lead to temporomandibular joint pain. Below is a list of possible causes that may lead to TMJ pain:

  • Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep (bruxism) – which overworks the jaw muscles and puts pressure on the joint (often caused by stress)
  • Wear and tear of the inside of the jaw joint - usually caused by osteoarthritis
  • Injury to the jaw joint – for example, after a blow to the face or surgery
  • Stress - Some people may inherit increased sensitivity to pain or stress
  • Uneven bite - for example, when new fillings, dental crowns or dentures are fitted
  • Specific conditions - TMD may be associated with specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia
  • Chewing habits
  • Nail biting
  • Holding things between your teeth
  • Poor posture may also lead to TMJ problems
  • Missing back teeth

The  above mechanisms may lead to chronic pain, however, peoples' experiences of pain are very individualised. Therefore, we use the Biopsychosocial approach to ensure people understand that pain is multifaceted and that there maybe a number of reasons that create barriers to a patient's recovery.

 Pain Venn Diagram

Five Treatment Tips

  1. Resting the joint by eating soft food and avoiding chewing gum
  2. Holding a warm or cold flannel to the jaw for 10-20 minutes, several times a day
  3. Doing a few gentle jaw-stretching exercises – we can recommend appropriate exercises
  4. Avoiding opening the joint too wide until the pain settles
  5. Avoiding clenching the teeth for long periods of time

How is TMJ pain + dysfunction treated by a Physio

Treatments vary depending on your individual condition. It also may depend on whether you are suffering from myofascial pain dysfunction, internal derangement of the TMJ or a combination of both.Physiotherapy Edinburgh, TMJ, jaw pain, temporomandibular, joint disorders, treatment

We use a number of techniques including

  • Joint mobilisation
  • Massage
  • Manipulation
  • We provide individualised exercise and strengthening plans


physiotherapy edinburgh, sport physio, physiotherapist, richard worrall, back pain, neck painRichard Worrall | Clinical Director + TMJ Physiotherapist

Joint Pain + TMJ problems are usually not serious and do not lead to further problems. Richard has seen many patients with TMJ disorders and understands how painful and how frustrating  it can be. Fortunately, the majority of joint pain cases usually respond well to physiotherapy.

Sometimes no obvious cause can be found and if it is necessary we are able to refer you onto a Dental Specialist. Edinburgh Sports + Spinal Physiotherapy are very privileged to have an association with Edinburgh Dental Specialists, and we are able to recommend a referral directly to Edinburgh Dental Specialists.

If you have a TMJ disorder and wish to make an appointment please ask for Richard Worrall who specialises in this area of physiotherapy.

Online booking


Comely Bank Clinic

52 Learmonth Grove,
Edinburgh, EH41BN

Earl Grey Street Clinic

Unit 4 New Uberior House, 3 Earl Grey Street,
Edinburgh, EH3 9BN


Richard is a top physio and knows exactly what he is speaking about! He was specific with information and able to identify my injury and gave me rest time and appropriate recovery exercises to get me playing rugby again asap! Would highly recommend him to anyone having problems! Mark

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Highly Recommend

Excellent treatment and advice from a knowledgeable and professional physiotherapist. Adept at answering questions and addressing any concerns I had. I felt very involved with my treatment as my goals were taken into account and treatment was tailored to these. Would recommend to anyone in need of an excellent physiotherapist. Angus

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Excellent Physiotherapy

“I worked with Richard at Edinburgh Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy when I was recovery from an ACL reconstruction. His knowledge and understanding is excellent. We worked together to put a detailed return to running plan specific to the hamstring graft that was taken during surgery. I would definitely recommend this clinic and Richard”.

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ACL Physio Return to Sport Nick

“I have used other NHS and private physio services as well as chiropractors in the past without success and so came to Richard. Richard is a Physio who listens and understands your situation. After an initial assessment he will then organise a detailed treatment plan. I would highly recommend anyone with back pain to see him”.

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Compare Physio vs Chiropractors Marie

“Richard was very welcoming and provided an excellent service. After only 2 visits he had managed to eliminate all discomfort and pain in my neck. He explained what was going on and used different techniques to get speedy results. I would definitely recommend Richard to anyone and everyone who is looking for a physiotherapist in Edinburgh!”

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Michael Pain & Discomfort Michael