November 26, 2023

Range of motion is a good predictor of jaw pain. Normal opening range is about 45mm, with 10 mm of left and right sliding. It’s a safe bet that if your jaw is restricted to below 35mm there will be a lot of cheating compensation which overloads surrounding joints, structures and muscles, leading to pain. This happens because the brain instinctively keeps us alive by sacrifices neck function, posture and movement so the jaw can continue to keep us alive by eating.  Some common patterns we see are listed here, though a stiff jaw can be perfectly pain free.

Range of Motion (ROM)Expectation
<30mmpain at rest
Between 30mm and 36mmpain on use
Between 36- 42mm   mostly pain free with pain on exertion
>42mmpain free

If you only have 25mm of jaw opening, we are going to expect that there is pain at rest.  As you ROM improves with whichever treatment modality you choose (occlusal splints, surgery, physiotherapy) we won’t expect to get pain resolution until you get closer to 38 to 40mm of functional movement. 

Hypermobility (range >55mm) can be another cause of discomfort if there isn’t enough pilates style muscular stability to control and stabilise the excessive rnage of motion.  A hypermobile joint with good strength is rarely painful, they only become painful if there is specific weak ness

If you have good range of motion (between 40 and 50mm) and good functional jaw strength, but you still have pain, there is a good chance that the pain is referred from another structure, such as your neck, and only a physiotherapist experienced in this field should assess and try to treat this problem.

Expert Jaw TMJ Physiotherapists  

The Headache Neck and Jaw clinic specialises in treating jaw and TMJ conditions. We make a full assessment, help relieve initial symptoms, then assist in the recovery of your injury or condition by fixing the problem.  We have vast experience and have several clinical outcome measures (such as Range of Motion to Pain Measure) to monitor progress to ensure that you are getting better with treatment.

Your physiotherapist will explain in detail the outcome of your assessment, collaborate with you on the best approach and ongoing treatment, and provide education and exercises to control pain and heal your jaw.

Read more about the expert TMJ Jaw physiotherapy treatment the Headache Neck and Jaw Clinic provides. If you have jaw pain or are worried about a stiff or clicky jaw, call us today on 07 3266 3389 or book online now.