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What causes stiffness and pain in the jaw muscles?

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Posted on Wed, 4 Jan 2017
Question: Hello,
Since yesterday morning I have been experiencing stiffness in my left TMJ directly in front of my left ear. There is pain with movement only. The stiffness and pain worsened towards the evening yesterday.
At certain times I would feel a click if I moved my jaw in a certain direction, for example, all the way to the left or right, or if I opened my mouth fully and this would temporarily relieve the stiffness almost entirely. This only lasted a few minutes though as it would gradually come back.
This morning the pain and stiffness has not worsened but it is the same as it was last night.
The onset was sudden as it was perfectly fine the previous night and then when I woke up yesterday morning I could feel the stiffness. I have also never experienced something like this before so this is the first time.
My questions:
1) what is this and how did it happen given the sudden onset?
2) do I need to see someone about it or can I expect it to improve by itself? (as I would with a pulled muscle, for example)
3) any jaw exercises I can do?
4) any medication or other treatments that I can try?
5) how long does this usually last?
Thank you for your help.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Honey Arora (54 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Detailed below..

Detailed Answer:
Hi..
Welcome to HEALTHCARE MAGIC..

I have gone through your query and can understand your concern..

As per your complain it seems that there is slight dislocation in the jaw joint leading to the following symptoms..

It can occur suddenly due to accidentally opening the mouth too wide or bitting on something very hard..
Also injury or blow to the jaw can also be a cause..

You should see a Dentist or an Oral Surgeon and get a Panoramic x ray done..
It will help in ruling out the exact status of the jaw joint and can be treated accordingly..
It does not seems to be a pulled muscle as the pain is exactly localised to the area in front of the left ear..
As of now you can take a combination of painkiller like Ibuprofen and muscle relaxant like Chlorzoxasone..
Do alternate warm and cool compresses over the jaw joint..
Avoid excessive mouth opening and take a soft diet...

It needs treatment and do not wait for it to resolve on its own as it can further worsen..

Please write back for further queries..

Regards..

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Nagamani Ng
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Answered by
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Dr. Honey Arora

Dentist

Practicing since :2011

Answered : 13958 Questions

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What causes stiffness and pain in the jaw muscles?

Brief Answer: Detailed below.. Detailed Answer: Hi.. Welcome to HEALTHCARE MAGIC.. I have gone through your query and can understand your concern.. As per your complain it seems that there is slight dislocation in the jaw joint leading to the following symptoms.. It can occur suddenly due to accidentally opening the mouth too wide or bitting on something very hard.. Also injury or blow to the jaw can also be a cause.. You should see a Dentist or an Oral Surgeon and get a Panoramic x ray done.. It will help in ruling out the exact status of the jaw joint and can be treated accordingly.. It does not seems to be a pulled muscle as the pain is exactly localised to the area in front of the left ear.. As of now you can take a combination of painkiller like Ibuprofen and muscle relaxant like Chlorzoxasone.. Do alternate warm and cool compresses over the jaw joint.. Avoid excessive mouth opening and take a soft diet... It needs treatment and do not wait for it to resolve on its own as it can further worsen.. Please write back for further queries.. Regards..