Tendonitis of the Jaw

by Ann
(Brooklyn, NY)

I believe I am suffering from TMJ and have been for a while now.

My dentist fitted me with a night guard and so far that has helped with grinding/clenching my teeth at night.

I usually have very little pain when I wake up in the morning although my jaw muscles are usually tight.

I believe the stress that I place on my jaw and the tendons supporting it have led to inflammation that is repeatedly aggravated when I eat.

Even though I have made an active effort to control my clenching/grinding, the act of chewing causes a lot of pain and I don't know how to relieve it given what precipitates the pain.

I have considered going to a TMJ specialist, but they are extremely expensive.

I would like to know if there is anything I can do on my own to relieve the inflammation and pain so that my jaw tendons can heal and I can finally eat without pain.

Thank you.

Answers for Tendonitis of the Jaw

Hi Ann.

You're welcome. I am happy to help as I can.

TMJ is one of those insidious, near invisible problems that so many people suffer from.

There absolutely are some things you can do for yourself, at home (and for free:)

But first, give me some more information.

1. How long has this been going on.

2. Did it start with a little bit of pain and problem and then slowly get worse? Or did it come on all of a sudden?

3. Does it hurt only when you eat? All day long? Sometimes, or constantly?

4. Is it always the same level of pain? Or is it sometimes a
2 out of 10, sometimes a 6 out of ten, etc?

5. You said "I believe the stress that I place on my jaw and the tendons supporting it have led to inflammation that is repeatedly aggravated when I eat."

Well said. Whether it's 'tendonitis' of the jaw, or TMJ, or otherwise. The label isn't as important as the dynamic of tightness and resulting pain.

What do you think is causing you to place all that stress on your jaw?

6. Have you been in a car accident before, or had other head/neck/jaw trauma?

Let's see if we can find an obvious source of the stress that is having your jaw clench to such a degree.

Let's identify the pattern of pain, and to the degree that we can, the source.

And then reverse it and get your jaw back to normal.

Also, thumbs up on the night guard to help you avoid grinding/clenching/misalignment. Keep doing that.

Answer the above questions and then let's get you started.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Mar 09, 2009
Tendonitis of the Jaw Answer PART 2
by: Ann

1. How long has this been going on?

Well, I believe I've been experiencing tightness of the jaw and pain for about seven months now.

When I was younger my jaw would occasionally lock on me, but never for an extended period of time. It would feel stiff, but I didn't experience pain.

For the past seven months though it went from some thing that happened rarely to a constant, dull ache. At first I thought I had a sinus infection of some sort. Over time it got worse. My dentist said there was evidence of me grinding my teeth, which pointed me in the direction of TMJ.

2. Did it start with a little bit of pain and problem and then slowly get worse? Or did it come on all of a sudden?

It started with a little bit of pain and then steadily escalated. At one point the pain was so bad that I was having difficulty focusing.

Ibuprofen did not help at all and I had to resort to Vicodin, which finally eased the pain. Now I have constant dull ache that never goes away and gets worse when I eat.

4. Is it always the same level of pain? Or is it sometimes a 2 out of 10, sometimes a 6 out of ten, etc?

The level of pain I feel is usually around a 2/3 as far as everyday is concerned. If I've eaten something that requires a lot of jaw movement, (bagels, gum, etc) I will experience quite a lot of pain...I would say a 6/7 on average. I've since avoided eating anything that will take work to eat...bread, cheese, nuts, etc).

5. What do you think is causing you to place all that stress on your jaw?

I'm not sure exactly. It could be a combination of factors. Most sources will say that TMJ is caused by "stress" and generally the people tell me to "stop being stressed" and I will be okay.

While I believe it is a contributing factor, I am skeptical that it is the ONLY factor. I also have a slight overbite so that may be an issue. The night guard was supposed to help, but if my tendons are constantly aggravated, I don't see how I can experience pain relief. I often use a heating pad to relieve the tightness and massage the area, but that that is not particularly effective for me.

6. Have you been in a car accident before, or had other head/neck/jaw trauma?

No I have not had an trauma to the head/neck/jaw area.


Great answers, thank you.

Apparently there is a size limit on comments, so see PART 3 for my response.

Mar 09, 2009
Tendonitis of the Jaw Answer PART 3
by: The Tendonitis Expert

So to review:

No history of head/neck trauma, jaw locked occasionally when young, no problems in between until about 7 months ago it started small has gotten worse, now kind of maintaining but is a constant issue.

Maybe you have Tendonitis, maybe you don't.

It's doubtful that you have scar tissue build up, but without a doubt your muscles are too tight and thus pulling on the tendon tissue and all it attaches too.

You definitely have a Pain Causing Dynamic which is making everything more and more tight, and dumping pain enhancing chemical into the tissue.

So, what do you do about that, at home?

The main, and primary thing you can do is the RIGHT massage for this issue.

I have a couple other suggestions, but this is foremost.

I should ask where you already massage, but I'm just going to say all this...

Two spots.

The first, is the temples. If you go straight out from your eyes level, there's a patch of muscle. If you press on it and clench your jaw, you'll feel the muscle bunch.

Rub that area on each side. That muscle is a primary jaw clencher.

Circles, squeezes, whatever, massage it. Imaging turning a dry crunchy sponge into a soft, squishy sponge. As you work it, send the command for the muscles to relax, relax, relax.

The Second spot is 'intra-oral'. Meaning, you are going to reach a finger or two into your mouth, and back where the jaw hinges, start feeling around and exploring for tight, painful spots.

If you poke around, these hot spots should jump right out at you. If they don't, they will as you keep at it.

Be gently, be patient, no hurry. These are tender and heavily used muscles. I promise that it will be a learning experience for you.

There are no official numbers, but do at least ten minutes before you go to bed, and ten minutes when you get up (or anytime after, really).

I have an ex girlfriend that had lifelong jaw stuff, and she started doing this, spent time and was diligent, and she now has no TMJ problems.

I urge you to stick with it. Do a third set of ten minutes every day. The more you do on the front end, the less you'll have to deal with this issue on the back end.

Feel free to ask questions as you go along.

On Stress

See PART 4

Mar 09, 2009
Tendonitis of the Jaw Answer PART 4
by: Anonymous

On Stress and Jaw Tendonitis and TMJ

It's really easy to say "Just stop being stressed" to someone, but it doesn't give any access to actually stop being stressed.

There's lots of info about stress and relaxation out on the internet. I'm not going to say anything about that.

I suggest you find an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner, assuming there's one around where you live.

In short, you tap various places on your body and have a particular conversation with the practitioner, and long story short, it disrupts nervous system patterns and retrains the nervous system to stop doing dumb stuff like keeping your TMJ in place.

It may sound a little wonky , -and- I absolutely believe in the benefits of EFT. I don't know about you, but I care about results, not about whether something is wonky or not.

Plus it's kind of fun. Again, it's an experience.

And it can/will disrupt the nervous system's pattern of keeping your jaw clenched.

I usually recommend icing for most everything, but it's tough with TMJ. It's tough to ice the inside of your mouth...

I can give you more directions for massaging the muscles on the inside of your jaw if you like.

Explore around first, experiment, and see what you find. Basically, if it hurts, gently and patiently press into it and move your finger around a little bit.

You will find you can spend a lot of time in there. It's a small area, but there's a lot to patiently work on.

You may notice some emotion coming up when pressing on the muscles.

There's a lot I could say about that, but let's go with that tight, painful muscles for a variety of reasons can 'store' emotion (whether there's a reason for it or not).

If nothing else, pain has an emotional component, and you have been in pain for a long time.

There is A LOT of things I could suggest.

But I just gave you to the top two:
Massage the dry crunchy sponge (inner jaw and temple muscles) and make it a soft, squishy sponge.

'Destress' with EFT. It's amazing what you can do in a single session. As in, you could totally turn off the lightswitch that is sending the clench signal.

Keep me updated and ask questions. I'm happy to work with you until you are completely out of pain.

Mar 09, 2009
Tendonitis of the jaw.
by: Anonymous

Hi Ann,

I've been following your back and forth with the Tendonitis Expert and have a few things to chime in with:

1) You could add some "natural antiinflammatories" to your diet/supplements. Fish oil is a natural antiinflammatory as is a promising new natural substance from the green lipped muscle. It is supposed to have 100 times the antiinflammatory effects of fish oil and is supposed to be excellent for joints in particular. I can help you with an excellent source if you are interested.

2)Turmeric and ginger have also been shown to be excellent antiinflammatories/pain relievers. If you have access to them fresh (asian markets often have them), they are excellent dietary additions or teas. Otherwise, supplements are an alternative.

3) Have you tried Chiropractic or Craniosacral therapy? Either of these modalities could help if it is also a misalignment problem

4) Have you had a good dental assessment? Could it be impacted wisdom teeth? Tooth abscesses?

Kerri Knox, RN
Functional Medicine Practitioner

[Joshua says "I give a big thumbs up to Kerri Knox. She is a long time ER/ICU nurse and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. I've seen her provide amazing results and turn arounds to her clients with various serious issues the usual medical establishment just can't touch.

Thank you Kerri for your input for Ann.

Cranio-sacral is absolutely an exceptional option for TMJ.]

Mar 10, 2009
Relief from pain - Tendonitis of the Jaw PART 5
by: Ann

I would just like to thank you both for your help.

Last night I massaged the muscles you suggested and this morning there was a noticeable difference in the tightness in my jaw.

I haven't felt that way in over seven months.

I've continued to do exercises throughout the day and it has helped considerably! I can't tell you what a relief it has been for me.

I will be seeing a TMJ specialist soon and hopefully they will give me good news. I am hoping that it is an impacted wisdom tooth that is causing the pain because at least that would have a difinitive solution.

I will keep you posted.

Joshua says: Great!

Keep massaging those jaw muscles inside your mouth. Repeatedly, gently, and often.

That will make a HUGE difference if you keep at it.

Regardless of what the original 'cause' is, once a Pain Causing Dynamic of tightness and pain sets in, there's a problem.

The massage will make the Downward Spiral into an Upward Spiral, and your jaw will love you for it.

Please do keep me/us updated.


Mar 17, 2010
I have this same problem. Help please.
by: Anonymous

This same kind of pain has happened to me just last night. That's about 24 hours from now. I wake up feeling my jaw in severe pain and I can barely chew a piece of chicken.

I had some reading today and thought it is a side effect from Norfloxacin that I took straight in 3 days, but eventually I stopped since it was for my UTI, which is now healed.

I am not sure if that was the source but I read over Wiki and saw that Tendonitis is one of the side offects of that anti-bacterial. I am just very glad to see this page!

I will try to follow on the massages and will update this site tomorrow and the following days and see what happens.

Thank you so much.



Joshua Comments:

Yep, Norfloxacin is a fluoroquinolone, related to Levaquin which can afflict one with, among other things, Levaquin Tendonitis.

If you've NEVER had jaw pain before, but then suddenly did with Norfloxacin, then it's a likely cause = effect.

Oct 15, 2010
by: Anonymous



Joshua Comments:

Technically, those are symptoms of TMJ.

So it's possibly you had TMJ (even if you didn't feel anything) and the antibiotic, for a variety of reasons, irritated it enough to send your Pain Causing Dynamic over the edge.

Tendonitis, no matter where it's located, works like that.

Was the antibiotic you took Levaquin or Cipro? If so, you better read up on that.

Either way, first thing I'd do (after reading up on Levaquin) is to learn about Magnesium for Tendonitis, and then thinking about a Magnesium Dosage.

Sudden onset of symptoms like that points to a dynamic where there was a sudden draw on your Magnesium reserves, and thus you are -actually- experiencing Magnesium deficiency symptoms.

Apr 17, 2011
Can only open my mouth about 1"
by: Artimist

1st, I went to the Dentist to get x-rays and then to see what else I would need done to my teeth.

The Dentist put me on antibiotics. I went back 2 weeks later and I could not open my mouth but 1". He said it was most likely because I need to get my wisdom teeth out.

But he could not do anything until I could open my mouth. I Have been trying to massage my jaw and areas around my jaw. And I have been trying EFT. But also my teeth hurt quite a bit when I try to open my mouth and massage the inside.

I have lost about 10lbs because I can't really eat anything. I will have protein drinks or OJ. etc. When I eat the pain goes to the extreme. So I will now see my Doctor to see if he can do anything for me. But I will continue to try things on this page and hopefully someone can write back with some pain relief.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Artimist.

I need some more information before I can form an opinion.

1. Was your jaw fine before you went to the dentist, or were you having problems opening it before you went and got put on antibiotics?

2. Along those lines, why did you go to the dentist?

3. Why did the dentist prescribe antibiotics?

Aug 22, 2011
Can't Fully Open My Mouth - Tendonitis of the Jaw
by: Mika

Since childhood, the joints on my elbows, fingers, toes and jaw pop easily. I feel good after popping them and my husband told me to stop it.

However, I read that the popping sound is caused by gas between joints so it's no biggie. 2 years ago on Christmas day, I woke up with my left elbow sore. I couldn't straighten my arm. I ignored it as I thought I just slept on my arm and that's what my GP told me. 2 weeks later, my right elbow was the same. I finally went to an orthopedic surgeon and he diagnosed it as Tendonitis. He injected something right on my left elbow (Demerol, I think) and a couple shots on my butt. The pain went away but I went on vacation and played a lot of Wii tennis with my brother and the pain came back just after 2 weeks.

2 more Demerol shots followed within a 6-month period and I thought it would be the bane of my existence. The Dr advised me to take care moving my arms but they just ache all the time.

Finally, after the last shot, I decided to exercise my arms (gently of course) like I used to do by lifting 5-8 lb weights. I'm happy to say that since then, the pain never came back. I still take care not to overstress my elbows.

Now to my new problem: a few weeks ago I woke up with an ache in my right jaw. It doesn't ache when my mouth is closed, only when I open my mouth to eat or yawn. I'm hoping it's not Tendonitis but I have a feeling that it is.. given my history.

Do you think this is TMJ, Joshua? I will try the massages you suggested. I will post again whether or not there's any improvement.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Mika.

Sounds like TMJ to me. Which really is just a label for pain in the jaw, that can show up for a variety of reasons.

And yes, exercise is sometimes the only remedy needed for joint/muscle issues. Use it or lose it, as they say.

On the flip side of that, jaw pain is NOT an overuse issue, but it -is- a MUSCLES TOO TIGHT issues.

First thing's first. Open up the too tight muscle and connective tissue structures.

And, of course, Magnesium for Tendonitis.

Oct 09, 2011
OMG IT HURTS -- Tendonitis of the Jaw
by: Anonymous

So i went to the dental school several days ago to have a molar removed. It was a difficult procedure and required a lot of wrenching on my jaw to get the tooth out.

Since then i'm showing signs of TMJ and the more i read, the more sure its what i have. I have a golf ball in my cheek, a marble below it on the underside of my jawbone... and my temples are throbbing.... i also can only clear 1/2" wide opening... making even a slice of toast difficult to cram into my starving mouth.

What can my dentist do to remedy this since they caused it? I cannot wear a bite guard as my teeth are too fragile and will shatter against the plastic.


Joshua Comments:

Hi AnonymousTooth.

Why are your teeth so fragile??? What's that all about?

That's a factor in this conversation for sure.

It sounds like you have LOTS of swelling.

Soft ice packs. You have to get the inflammation down. You've had a tooth and ATTACHED tissue -ripped- from your bone/flesh. The body doesn't like that.

Some extractions are easy, some not so much. In highschool I had one and a half wisdom teeth removed. Granted I got 'dry socket' (extremely painful) but I was on the couch for a week. A neighbor girl had all four wisdom teeth out a month later, and she was eating ice cream at the mall later in the day.

My body did NOT like the extractions. Hers didn't seem to care.

Yours seems to care.

So TMJ may or may not become a factor. What's currently happening is an acute Pain Causing Dynamic and Process of Inflammation that are creating pain and TIGHT guarding muscles.

First things first...reduce the inflammation.

Ice packs, and VERY gentle massage to get that excess fluid and pain chemical out of the tissue.

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