Q. I have severe pain in my TMJ, and it keeps getting locked. What to do?

Answered by
Dr. Purva Jingar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 17, 2017 and last reviewed on: Aug 26, 2021

Hello doctor,

I am an 18 year old, who has been suffering from TMJ problems for two and half years. It all started when my jaw would be locked in the morning, and a  few hours later it would be fine. One morning I woke up with it locked and it never unlocked, I went four months unable to open my jaw before treatment started. I was in massive amounts of pain, and it gave me terrible headaches. Almost every day I had to go to the nurse for Ibuprofen.

My orthodontist started me on a special Invisalign that had a thicker bite plane on the bottom tray. This slowly helped me gain motion in my jaw again. A few months later it was locked again, so I went to a specialist, who referred me to physical therapy. The physical therapy helped, and I had motion back in my jaw, and the pain had decreased immensely. My mom saw I was doing better, so she pulled me out of physical therapy.

My jaw started hurting a lot again, so once again we went to the specialist who sent me to a new therapist. I started physical therapy again, and he did dry needling. It took longer than expected for me to get better, but I was fine. Two weeks ago I was at the point where he was about to discharge me, I had little to no pain, and my jaw was not popping. But last week, the pain in my jaw flared up to the point of headaches and kept popping. My physical therapist does not understand why I keep relapsing. He thinks it may be something structural and I should go back to my orthodontist, but they have tried to help me in the past and failed. I have had this problem almost my whole high school, and I cannot handle the constant pain anymore, I do not remember what it is like to have a healthy jaw. I am losing hope and feel I will never get better. What should I do?



Welcome to

  • I think you are suffering from arthritis of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). The cause is a lack of fluid between the joints.
  • I suggest you try doing the following.
  1. Take calcium and vitamin D containing food, for better results.
  2. Use lavender oil, olive oil, or any herbal oil, and massage your TMJ.
  3. Practice opening your mouth with three fingers, if that is not possible then just put three fingers between the teeth and try to stretch them vertically.
  4. Also, make a balloon face whenever you are free.
  5. Do not clench or grind your teeth.
  • This will take time to heal, and please consult an oral surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon.

For more information consult a dentist online -->

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