Did TMJ exercises and now the jaw hurts

I did some TMJ exercises and now my jaw is really sore on one side and ear feels strange. When will the soreness go away?

You obviously had a problem in the jaw joint, or you wouldn't have started the exercises.

I quote from the site: "I must stress; choosing the right TMJ exercises and doing them correctly, is paramount. Listen to your jaw. Some discomfort is to be expected in the beginning, but if your instincts tell you this is not helping, don't be silly and keep going. Seek professional help."

I'm sorry the exercises seem to have increased your pain.

I would stop them completely for a week, and then, reading the instructions carefully again, start with just one exercise, the one of your choice.

Remember, you may feel some discomfort, but the exercises shouldn't cause pain. Either do them more gently, or stop completely.

When you are confident the first exercises isn't causing the problem, then start the second, and so on.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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TMJ and swollen lymph glands in the neck

by Kay
(United States)

Ppinal trigeminal tract

Ppinal trigeminal tract

Hello. I am a 43 year old woman who has had orthodontic braces for 2 1/2 years. Late last year I was fitted with an "MDA" wire which required wearing elastic bands between the top and bottom teeth at any time I wasn't eating. While the appliance has since been removed (I am still in braces), I believe it triggered TMJ and now I am suffering from constant jaw and neck pain and stiffness.

I also have swollen lymph nodes in my neck and head and a lump / swelling on my cervical vertebrae. I have had a CT scan, Ultrasound and X-Ray that have showed nothing (other than enlarged lymph nodes). A recent blood test (complete blood panel) showed one type of white cell as low and another as high. I am seeing my regular doctor this week to ask what she thinks is going on.

I have not been sick nor do I feel ill at all - just the pain and tension which is constant. When I stretch my jaw (mostly by opening wide and then relaxing, repeatedly), I get temporary relief from my symptoms. I would welcome any feedback you can offer.

Hello Kay,
Firstly, the diagnosis of those enlarged lymph nodes has to be made. That is paramount; and could be the underlying cause of all your neck and TMJ symptoms.

I must be honest and say that I have some doubts about braces. What was the reason for having them? I get many letters from folk who develop TMJ pain after orthodontic treatment.

Look carefully at the graphic shown; you'll see that the sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve, that supplies the jaw joint, is located in the upper neck. For this reason, many folk with TMJ symptoms also have neck pain.

Or, the problem in the neck could be quite independent of all your TMJ symptoms. Or it could be caused by those swollen lymph glands.

My suggestion is to first get those lymph glands seen to, and then have a long chat to your orthodontist. What's his take on the subject?

Then it's time to start looking for a chiropractor who works with the TMJ; not all do, so shop around and make sure the person has some genuine credentials. Ask your doctor for a start.

I hope this contributes, Kay. Please let me know what happens, keeping to this thread.

Dr Barrie Lewis


» Jaw joint pain and swollen lymph glands in the neck

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Aug 19, 2015
Visited with Orthodontist Today
by: Kay

Dr. B:
Thanks for your response. I had a monthly orthodontic appointment / adjustment this morning and visited with the doctor. She referenced an x-ray she had taken of my cervical spine immediately before the braces went on. She said my spine was compensating for the misalignment of my jaw which is reflected in the very straight (up and down) stacking of my first few vertebrae in the x-ray. She said ideally, there should be a gentle curve there and now after wearing braces for 2 1/2 years, my jaw is requiring my cervical spine to adjust (curve) and it could trigger inflammation.

We visited about other symptoms (besides swollen lymph nodes and abnormal white cell counts) and I shared that I have frequent (but brief) cluster headaches, sore throat and sensation of lump on left side of throat as well as tingling, numbness and sensation of hair being pulled at base of skull which is adjacent to the lump left of my spine just above the hairline. I have an appointment with my general practitioner Friday and will keep you updated. I too would like to know the reason behind the swollen lymph nodes and am tired of being told "give it some time" and "wait and see." Thank you!

Hello Kay,
Yes, the cervical spine should have a lordotic curve, that points to old injury to your neck. In many ways, it's an encouragement. It means that your neck pain is probably coming from your neck, and thus very treatable with chiropractic.

Migraine headaches and facial pain are part and parcel of the TMJ syndrome.

Why did you have the prosthetics fitted?

Away now for three weeks.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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TMJ Dizziness

by Liza
(Johannesburg, South Africa)

Anatomy of the TMJ

Anatomy of the TMJ

I have been to numerous dentists and Maxillo Facial Specialists and all I get is another bite plate and Anti Inflammatories, which I am no longer able to take as they have caused gastritis. My question about dizziness has never been answered. Can TMJ cause bad dizziness? I don't have it every day but a lot of days and it causes me great distress and is making me anxious.

Hello Liza,
These are two probably two unrelated conditions.

There's a little test you can do; it's not easy but if you read carefully, perhaps you can do it. It's called the Hallpike Dix test, this is the basic examination and frankly like all such should really be done by an experienced practitioner. But since you have been unable to find someone, try this. It's normally done when you are having an episode of vertigo or dizziness.

Lie on several cushions so that your head can dangle in extension. You need another person to very carefully observe your eyes. Keep them open.

With the observer on one side of the bed, lie sideways, or on the floor, turn your head first to the left and then to the right, with your head in extension. Does it provoke the dizziness? Do your eyes begin to spin, or flick from side to side? It's called nystagmus.

If it provokes nothing, then sit on the bed, turn your head to the right and then very quickly drop onto your left side, keeping your head turned to the right. Do you become disoriented. Does the observer see your eyes spinning. It may only last a few seconds. Repeat with your head turned to the left, dropping quickly onto the right side.

If these tests provoke dizziness, and your eyes rotate or flick, then you have a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. There's only one recognised treatment and it's called the Epley manoeuvres. Some chiropractors are knowledgeable about them, or a neurologist.

Let me know if Hallpark Dix is positive.

If your TMJ pain is not responding to a bite plate and NSAIDS then it's time to find someone else who knows about the jaw joint.

Try googling the chairperson of the Gauteng branch of the Chiropractic Association of South Africa, or CASA, and see if they can recommend someone. I'm afraid I'm five hours drive away, and that's not practical.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Electric shocks in my front teeth and TMJ

by Teresa
(Twentynine Palms, CA)

Dear Doctor,

I am seeing a cranial sacral therapist for TMJ. I have been experiencing an electric painful shock in my front two teeth. These teeth had root canal surgery over 30 years ago and my front two teeth are crowned. Still the pain shoots through them as if they are still my real teeth. The crowns have recently been examined to show no infection and be sound.

I am very anxious that the pain will not go away. It is triggered by wind on my face, light touch, and drinking cold or warm liquids. Whenever my TMJ becomes aggravated, which unfortunately is nearly everyday from speaking incorrectly or an urge to stretch the jaw joint. The pain flares up very painfully at the point I hear a crack.

I have been experiencing much anxiety regarding this condition. I am hoping the problem will resolve, but have a deep fear that this condition will turn out to be Trigeminal Neuralgia. Can you offer me any hope?

Hello Theresa,
If wind sets it off it may well be TN, but I'm not terrified of the condition. Using a needle, prick the two sides of your face, above the eye, below the eye, and the lower jaw. Is there a distinct difference?

One of the key signs if chiropractic will help is whether the lateral pterygoid muscle is very tender. Take your left forefinger, pulp facing outwards, and insert it in your mouth between the right upper teeth and the cheek, and go as far as you can, high up beyond the teeth into the pterygoid pocket. Your finger will be just in front of the jaw joint. Prod about. Is it extremely tender? Compare with the other side.

If it's really sore then there's definitely hope of relieving the condition, if not curing it.

The pain in those crowns doesn't quite fit, and may be a separate, as yet undiagnosed problem. Do they hurt when you bite on them and chew?

The fact your jaw joint cracks definitely points to a damaged meniscus, or perhaps arthritis of the joint. Have you had a lot of dental work on the rear molars or wisdom teeth? Orthodontic treatment?

It's not pleasant, but a bite plate, worn at night, definitely helps some people.

You need to start looking for a chiropractor who works regularly with the jaw joint if the SOT treatment doesn't help.

You will find some TMJ exercises at Chiropractic Help.

This is a trying condition and you will have to be patient and go in search of someone who can help. Find them!

Sorry, but CA is a long way from South Africa!

Dr Barrie Lewis

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TMJ, neck strain, arm and TOS

by April
(League city texas)

The TMJ joint

The TMJ joint


I read about TOS HERE ON YOUR SITE THROUGH GOOGLE SEARCH. I am 28 female, and have had a list of symptoms and pain with the main life altering kind since 9 days ago today.

Starting in my jaw. Then also with my jaw, the neck, ER said strain. I had a episode today like the arm thing of TOS, have also had a sharp or throbbing pain along my left rib and yesterday and today my chest.

Once was into my back and that was during pain/ feeling in my spine and even my collar bone. I believe all this is linked from my jaw however i do not exercise and haven't done anything to cause body harm other than over yr ago car a finest hurt my neck several days later but had only a pinching feeling

A few days my neck after it stopped and a year later at that. My jaw alignment, joint is off and its hard to eat. I also had in last year off on a pain or pop in side or front my throat like a ring was off or pop out. Slightly painful or not at all, just uncomfortable.

My symptoms since 9 days ago started jaw alignment and jaw shutting once when eating hard on my front teeth, neck pain and strain and in to my head since 3 days ago. I have been mostly confined to sitting reclined in the recliner and if can eat soup or oatmeal or very mushed. The second day of this I had a thriving sharp pain in my head and head temples into back head to neck and top head throbbing sharp pain. It lasted hours then went away.

All of this is affiliated with my jaw and neck and spine where most pain or discomforts are. It is for sure messing with my nerves, at times balance and focus. I have two young kids to care for and husband works a lot so i really need help in figuring out where to go, who to see, and what to do to help or fix my jaw and all these seemingly growing symptoms.

Sometimes effecting my tongue, teeth, back right eye, head, spine. My husband doesn't understand.

Hello April,
It's good you've been to the ER to rule out a heart condition; pain in the chest, arm and jaw.

Because there is dizziness thrown in to this very complex mixture of symptoms, I'd stay with the medical world for a while. Let them assess you.

Once you have the all clear start looking for a chiropractor who works with the jaw joint. It's very interrelated with the neck, and you need someone who can work with both.

Talk to friends, perhaps phone your local chiropractic state organisation, ask your doctor; what chiro works with the jaw?

I hope this contributes.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Full Dentures and TMJ Treatment

by Nancy
(Austin, TX)

I've been wearing full dentures for about 15 years (with relines and new sets) but the last two years have found both new sets of dentures intolerable to wear for even a brief few minutes.

I have many symptoms of TMJ and burning mouth syndrome, suffering chronically 24/7.
Question is, do I get tmj treatment PRIOR to being fitted for a new set of *hypollergenic*, hopefully lighterwight, thinner dentures.

Or do I get the dentures first. My last two dentures supposedly fit fine, but I've become hypersensitive- and quality of life is severely impaired at this point.

Thank you for any treatment advice.

Hello Nancy,
Making dentures is like fabricating orthotics; it's an art and it sounds like your latest orthodontist is no artist.

It's hard to be sure whether it's the dentist, or the person who made dentures. Either could be at fault.

My best advice is to go to a totally new practice that used a different technician to make the dentist. Unless you have a lot of confidence in the current place where you are.

I'm not too sure how to answer your question; it's an interesting one and has got me thinking. If one TMJ is fixated and not moving in harmony with the other, would it affect the mould? Yes, maybe, so perhaps it would be best to have the TMJ treatment prior to having your dentures made.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Mar 01, 2017
by: Dawn

Did physio really help you? My jaw is always hanging open and can't seem to close it comfortably; I've been thinking about physio but not sure if it's a waste of my time.

Hello Dawn,
Find someone, physical therapist or chiropractor, who works regularly with the jaw joint.

Dr Barrie Lewis

Apr 27, 2016
tmj treatment or new denture first?
by: Nanc

Thank you for the response. It seems I have developed chronic, 2+ yrs, dysesthesia with hyper tongue and jaw movements. Received physical therapy for "tmj" recently which helped allow my jaw to close vertically rather than a "C" shape.

I'll be fitted for another low end denture this week. It's all I can afford right now.

My fear is I am now a 'crazy patient' who will never again be able to tolerate all that hard plastic in my mouth.
....a whole 'nother issue I suppose.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and input.

Hello Nanc,
It does give one cause to stop and consider before making huge irreversible steps in life; what would you give to have those lousy teeth back?

No, not a crazy patient at all, but just another once bitten twice shy when it comes to the excesses of health care; sometimes the devil you do know is better than the one you don't.

Our TMJ exercises might help, I don't know.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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TMJ related trigeminal pain in ear

by Mrt

Hello, I had a problematic jaw because of chewing gum in the past. A month ago a pain started in my ear, apparently in middle ear. It was a neural pain, sharp and less then a second and was happening around 10-15 times a day. Then it is reduced and now more somewhere in between jaw joint and ear area, around trigeminal nerve. It especially happens when I open my mouth more than I should or even press the muscles on my cheek, or sudden neck movements.

I believe I have stimulated the Trigeminal nerve. Things started after I ate some chewy foods for several days. I want to do the exercises in your site but afraid if it will help or make it worse for people who already have neural pain around the ear and jaw. Thanks...

Hello Mrt,
The rule of thumb is to start any new exercise gently, and only one at a time.

It's okay to feel some discomfort, but if causes pain then it's best to stop, or at least do it more gently.

This is complex because there are three possible problem area; the inner ear, such as an infection, the jaw joint and your cervical spine. Each needs to be examined carefully and thoroughly to see whether it is the primary.

Seeing that it all started IN your ear, I'd start with an ENT specialist.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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