October 21, 2022

What is an arthrocentesis

An arthrocentesis is the most common surgical procedure available for the TMJ (Jaw).  It is performed when you have a sudden onset or spontaneous locked jaw, which persists longer than 5 to 7 days. 

Some common examples would be when you have woken up and your jaw is locked, you have bitten down awkwardly on something hard, like a large carrot or caramel, or even keeping your mouth open on exactly the wrong angle during a dental procedure.

How is Arthrocentesis treated

TMJ jaw physio treatment manipulating inside mouth with gloves on
Best practice is for the jaw to be manually unlocked with a ‘hands on’ approach.

Best practice is for your physiotherapist to manually unlock the jaw with a “hands on” approach, as we can also start muscular rehab at the same time, but if it doesn’t fix it within 3 to 4 sessions, an arthrocentesis is recommended. This surgical procedure is most effective and has the best outcome within 6 weeks of the jaw becoming locked. 

Post-Arthrocentesis rehabilitation 

A locked jaw requiring an arthrocentesis often seems like a random event, but it is usually a sign that the jaw has been problematic for a period of time.  Just like physio is required to rehab a knee after it has had a surgical procedure, physiotherapy is required to rehab a jaw post arthrocentesis, and there is a specific arthrocentesis protocol we follow for best outcomes.

Learn more about spontaneous jaw locking.

If you suffer from a sore or locked jaw, contact the Headache Neck and Jaw Clinic today for a comprehensive assessment and treatment.