Jaw pain and or clicking (TMD)

Do you have jaw pain? Jaw stiffness? Does your jaw lock up? Click uncomfortably? 

Looking for jaw pain relief? Scroll down for stretches, exercises and other home remedies for jaw pain relief. Before you try any new remedy, talk with your health care provider to verify it is appropriate for your specific condition. Hopefully that is one of our chiropractors here at Drummond Chiropractic. We can help you determine if you jaw pain is TMD (Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction), or something more insidious, like referred pain from a tooth or heart condition.

Not all chiropractors work on jaws, but all of the chiropractors at Drummond Chiropractic are jaw (TMJ) and diagnostic experts. All of our chiropractors excel with jaw pain relief and TMD (jaw dysfunction) treatments. If you have jaw pain, no need to wait. Call us or Click Here to schedule an appointment. With being a group practice, one of our doctors will be available for you within a day, if not today. We will get to the root cause of your jaw pain, so when we treat it, it will not only feel better but be less likely to return. 

That is the Drummond Difference!

Especially if you have a pinched nerve (pain referring to your tooth or causing headaches), don't wait! Waiting could result in permanent nerve damage! Again, with multiple experienced chiropractors on staff, we are likely to be able to get you an appointment immediately.

We are here to help you on your journey back to health.

how chiropractors treat jaw pain TMD

Looking For Tips For Jaw Stiffness, clicking And or Pain, 

Check Out The excerpts from Dr. Karin Drummond's 

"Combat Jaw pain" book Below:

IT CAN BE DISCONCERTING to have your jaw pop and dislocate when you open your mouth. Even I, who understand the mechanisms of such dysfunction, can be caught off guard when my jaw pops out of its joint. And I am a chiropractor who had special training in jaw mechanics!

TMJ opening for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

My worst case was when I simply opened my mouth to bite into a sandwich and my jaw wiggled funny. Upon closing my jaw, I felt a terrible pinch in my right jaw, likely from the jawbone pinching the disc on the right. I have had jaw pain before from jaw-lash, but this sensation was much sharper. I could not open my jaw more than a finger width apart, nor bite with any pressure. Talking was difficult, let alone chewing. Luckily, I had the means to treat it, which I share here and in my "Combat Jaw Pain"book. With the application of these remedies, I was 100 percent within three days. 

You may be diagnosed with temporomandibular joint dysfunction, shortened to the much easier to read and remember TMD, when you have recurring pain in one or both of your jaw joints. The condition used to be called TMJ syndrome, but it was changed to TMD because TMJ is the term used for the jaw (temporomandibular joint), and too many people were shortening TMJ syndrome to just TMJ. So when someone said they suffered from TMJ, they were basically saying they suffered from “jaw.” The name was changed to temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) to clarify this distinction. But what causes this pain? 

Look at the first Figure above and see how the mandible bone glides in the groove (mandibular fossa) of the temporal bone of the skull. I often use the analogy that this groove is like a riverbed. Over time, as the water flows through the riverbed, it deepens its own channel. But if the water deviates from its normal pathway, it forms an oxbow.

jaw opening for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

jaw analogy of a river bed for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor


The same thing happens with your jaw. When your mandible (jawbone) doesn’t glide properly in its groove, it grinds against tissue outside of its normal pathway, in effect creating an “oxbow” that’s often painful. Misalignment of the muscles or an injury can cause the jaw to glide improperly in its groove. Figure above illustrates a normal pathway versus an oxbow pathway. The blue line shows the normal path; the red line shows the movement that creates an oxbow.

A practitioner’s job is to help the mandible get back in its groove. The patient’s job is to keep moving the mandible in its groove.

We are ALL TMJ experts. 


to schedule an appointment.

I like this analogy because it helps patients understand that every time they hear a pop or feel the jaw deviate, they are deepening their “oxbow.”

I EXPERIENCED JAW PAIN after I was involved in a car accident in 2014. My back upper molar became tender after the accident. I had recently had a crown placed on that tooth, so it had been more sensitive anyway. But over the weekend, it seemed more than sensitive; it was actually sore.

As it turned out, the nerve that supplied that tooth was being pinched by spastic muscles in the jaw (kind of like sciatica, but instead of the sciatic nerve being pinched by a buttock muscle to cause leg pain, a branch of the maxillary nerve was being pinched by a jaw muscle, causing tooth pain). 

I have many patients who come to me when they have tooth pain because it is often a result of tight jaw muscles. If their tooth pain does not improve with their jaw treatment, then they see their dentist. If their tooth pain improves with their jaw treatment, they have saved themselves a trip to the dentist.

TMD may express as tooth pain with or without other jaw symptoms.

TMD can also cause pain to radiate up into the head (Figure below). Muscle tension in the face, neck, and upper back can refer pain into the head as well.

jaw to head pain for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

When someone is in a car accident, they can suffer whiplash. However, they can also sprain their jaw (temporomandibular joint, aka TMJ).[1] 

As your head whips back in the first milliseconds after an accident, the muscles in the front of the neck (like the digastric, omohyoid, and platysma muscles) that anchor to your jawbone (mandible) strain, abnormally pulling on your jaw. This can result in a sprain to your jaw and strain the jaw muscles. Injury to the jaw and its muscles not only causes pain in the jaw, but can also radiate pain to the head, teeth, neck, and more.

[1] Berkow, “TMJ Disorders,” Merck Manual.

Injury to the muscles that control the movement of the jaw can lead to chronic TMD if not treated properly. 

When a joint is sprained, it becomes looser and less stable. So, every time you chew when your TMJ is sprained, the mandible may wiggle funny, resulting in an audible sound (not a good popping sound). This unhealthy sound is from the articular disc slipping out of its mandibular fossa. I prefer to call this sound “clicking” versus “popping” to differentiate it from the good type of pop you get from stretching or adjusting a joint.

jaw (TMD) clicking for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

Differentiating Between a Click, a Snap and a Pop in your jaw

When you adjust a joint, gases come out of the joint’s liquid from a decrease in pressure, creating bubbles that pop, which facilitates healing. (I talk about these good pops in many of my books).  A joint makes a “snap” or a “click” sound when it moves abnormally. 

An easy way to tell if you are experiencing a click or snap versus a pop is if the sound is repeatable. When a joint pops, it takes at least twenty minutes for the barometric pressure in the joint to build back up and for the stretch to cause a bubble to form and pop again. A click or snap can be done every time you move the joint abnormally because either a tight tendon snaps over the bone every time it moves (making a snapping sound) or a disc clicks out of place as in the figure showing the aberrant clicking above. 

A movement that creates a “pop” feels good. “Snap” and “click” movements can (but not always) hurt. In the case of TMD, the pain comes from the irregular pressure on the disc of the jaw, which causes inflammation. If the disc gets used to the irregular pattern, it no longer inflames, so it no longer hurts to click.

Even if your jaw doesn’t hurt when it clicks, the sound is a sign of jaw dysfunction, and you should look for treatments to help realign your jaw.  

Other Causes of TMD

Take it from me, a TMJ chiropractor, you may be contributing to your jaw pain without even knowing it. How you talk on the phone, your posture, and what you eat can all cause tension in your jaw muscles. Additionally, when you are in pain in places other than your jaw, you are more likely to hold tension in your jaw muscles. It is common to clench your teeth with pain. So watch how you perform your daily activities. You may be negatively affecting your jaw!

Actions that contribute to TMD

Do you slouch while sitting and/or standing? Slouching can strain your jaw and neck muscles throughout the day. If you slouch, check out my Combat Slouching to learn how better your posture. 

Do you rest your chin in your hand? If so, your head likely tilts, and your jaw deviates from its normal straight up-and-down hinge action. This puts extra stress on your jaw, which may cause your jaw to pop and/or be in pain. 

Do you hold your phone by lifting your shoulder to your ear? This also strains the neck and jaw. When you talk with your head in an abnormal position, the neck muscles aren’t in a neutral position, making it difficult for your jaw to glide open without pulling to one side. Repetitive pulling on the jaw during use eventually sprains it, causing pain.

Do you pull on your jaw to stretch your neck? This can sprain your jaw. You don’t want to injure your jaw while attempting to stretch your neck.  

Do you talk with tension in your jaw? Make sure your jaw moves freely when you talk. If your mouth doesn’t move much during articulation, you are likely straining your jaw muscles. 

When chewing your food, do you chew on both sides evenly, or do you favor one side? Chewing on one side more than the other can lead to muscle imbalance and joint dysfunction.

Do you like chewy foods? Do you chew on ice? Excessive chewing can strain your jaw. Try avoiding chewy foods for a week. If your jaw is a lot of pain, avoid chewing for a week by eating soups and smoothies with a spoon. (Drinking a smoothie from a straw can irritate the jaw.) Resting your jaw for a week or two while doing the gentle massages and stretches in Chapter 6 should allow the jaw muscles to heal enough that you can reintroduce soft foods and eventually chewy foods. Just make sure you eat chewy foods sparingly (no more than a couple times a week) because it may cause your jaw symptoms to return.

Do you chew gum? If you do, you shouldn’t chew on a piece of gum for more than a minute and no more than three times a day. Preferably, you don’t chew gum at all.

Do you find yourself clenching your jaw? If you do, try pressing the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. This should help you relax your jaw muscles.

How Clenching Your Teeth at Night Affects Your Jaw

Other advice from your TMJ chiropractor... If you clench your teeth while you’re sleeping, the first thing you must do is protect your teeth from the powerful compressive forces the jaw muscles can exert on your teeth.  At a minimum, buy a mouth guard from a pharmacy, online or a sporting goods store that is heat moldable for a custom fit.

You may also want to talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard specific for your needs.

The mouth guard will not stop you from clenching, so it will not fix your TMD, but it will save your teeth from cracking under the pressure.

Like any muscle that contracts for a long time without rest, clenched jaw muscles inhibit nutrient-filled blood from flowing in at a time when they need more nutrients for this chronic contraction.

Clenching also obstructs lymphatic drainage, which removes the excessive waste produced by these spastic muscles, and squishes the nerves running through the region, irritating the nerve and causing the muscle to contract further. 

This creates a vicious cycle of starving muscles festering in their own waste, but they can’t stop contracting because the irritated nerves continue to misfire.

To break this cycle, you must consciously disengage the muscles and relax! The jaw muscles are small and mighty. To relax them, stick out your tongue as far as you can. Then curl your tongue so the bottom of the tongue is touching the roof of your mouth.

Try it. Feel how your deep jaw muscles have to relax to allow these actions.

I advise patients who clench their teeth at night to open the jaw straight with their toothbrush, and then stick their tongue out, holding that for five breaths, and then curl the tongue under the roof of the mouth.

This deep stretch will hopefully carry over, keeping the jaw relaxed well into sleep. If you wake up with a tense jaw, repeat these stretches. 

The Key to Easing Jaw Pain

Basically, try to keep your jaw, neck, and upper back muscles relaxed. Jaw tension can also pinch nerves, resulting in jaw pain, tooth pain, and/or facial pain (like having sciatica of the face). Upper back tension can put pressure on nerves and send pain to the jaw.

If you have head, jaw, or neck pain, stretching and massaging your head, neck, and jaw muscles can help. I explain several stretches and massage maneuvers in this book for TMD, but to help determine which are best for your specific pain, seek the advice of a healthcare provider.  

Teeth Affecting Jaw Pain

A limiting factor for us TMJ chiropractors... Sometimes TMD results from a misalignment of your teeth. If you cannot close your jaw completely because of crooked teeth, or if your jawbone has to shift so your teeth can touch, this misalignment puts abnormal stress on the jaw, causing pain. As a TMJ chiropractor, I could re-align your jaw all day long, but every time you bite down, you would undo the benefit of the alignment. So you need to pay a visit to your dentist. Your dentist or an orthodontist can determine if your teeth are affecting your bite; in such cases, straightening your teeth can help alleviate your jaw pain.


AS WITH ANY self-remedy, visit a TMJ chiropractor or other TMJ specialist healthcare provider (or two) to see if these treatment options are appropriate and safe for you.


IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING PAIN and are looking for an alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers, temperature therapy may be an option. Heat therapy and ice therapy are useful and sometimes can be used interchangeably.

Heat Therapy 

Heat is a great analgesic (pain reducer) and opens up capillary beds, bringing more blood to the region that is experiencing pain. This is great for tight muscles as in TMD. However, heat therapy is also inflammatory. If your TMD is caused by inflammation, heat can make it worse.

Ice Therapy

Like heat, ice is a great analgesic because it is also an anti-inflammatory. Ice therapy is a suitable treatment for acute injuries (during the inflamed state) because ice therapy causes your blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood supply to the region. But if you don’t have any inflammation, ice therapy is unhealthy for tissues already starved for blood, as with TMD that is caused by spastic muscles. 


Be careful with heat and ice. They are very effective tools when used correctly, but they can be dangerous when used incorrectly or to treat the wrong ailment.

Patients often make an emergency visit to my office after sleeping with a heating pad. This is a dangerous practice. It is too easy to overheat the region and wake up in a terribly inflamed state. 

It is also dangerous to sleep with an ice pack, especially if you are on pain medication. I have had more than one patient wake up with frostbite under an ice pack after having slept with one.

A Safe Heat/Stretch/Ice Treatment for Jaw Pain

I believe the safest self-treatment for most jaw pain is to

1.     Heat the upper back (trapezius muscles) for ten minutes to soften the neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles (all of which can affect the jaw).

2.     Stretch the neck, shoulders, upper back, and jaw gently while the muscles are warm and pliable.

3.     Finish with two minutes of ice massage to the jaw to calm any inflammation that may have worsened with the heat and stretches. Partially wrap an ice cube with a towel (so you do not freeze the hand applying the ice), place the ice cube on the painful side of the jaw, and massage the outer muscles of the jaw with the ice in a circular fashion (Figure 7-1). 

ice massage for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

Figure 7‑1: Ice massage to the jaw.

Note: If both sides of the jaw are in pain, you can ice massage both sides at the same time. Place an ice cube in its own towel (so you do not freeze your hands while applying the ice), and massage the outer muscles of both jaw joints at the same time with the ice. Again, do not ice for more than two minutes.

ice massage for jaw pain

Again, you do not have to suffer 

with jaw pain or stiffness.

Why wait?


to schedule an appointment.

Stretches, exercises and trigger point therapy for jaw pain

tmd relief with stretches and exercises


Link to buy:

Combat Jaw Pain by Dr. Karin for jaw pain TMJ chiropractor

neck pain book

Link to Buy

back pain book  

You do not have to suffer 

with jaw pain, clicking or locking.

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Drummond Chiropractic, LLC

Your Downtown Jaw Pain Specialists
Bloomington Indiana Chiropractor
565 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404

(812) 336 -2423

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