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Jaw Exercises for Arthritis

By Robert Rottkamp

The jaw joint, also known as the temporomandibular joint, is among the most frequently used joints in your body, and is prone to arthritis pain. The jaw joint is susceptible to arthritis resulting from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, Lyme disease, or injury, rheumatologist Nathan Wei writes for the Arthritis Treatment and Relief website. Certain exercises allow sufferers of jaw arthritis to recover over a period of several months. Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Spray and Stretch Exercises

With the assistance of a physical therapist, spray and stretch exercises may relieve arthritis pain in your jaw. First, your physical therapist will spray a skin refrigerant over the painful area, to numb the skin; he may also use ice to numb the area. After the joint is numbed, a passive jaw motion device stretches the mouth open slowly to bring flexibility to the joint and relax the muscles.

Assisted and Resisted Opening

These exercises, suggested by dentist Steven Pohlhaus, relax the jaw muscles, and bring flexibility to the temporomandibular joint. Use them to prevent arthritis jaw pain, when symptoms are mild or non-existent. Begin the assisted opening exercise by placing two fingers on the lower front teeth. Slowly open your mouth wide while pushing down with your fingers. Stop if this becomes uncomfortable. Repeat 10 times. Begin the resisted opening exercise by cupping one palm under your chin and opening your jaw slowly, while you give gentle resistance with your palm. Repeat 10 times.

South Devon Healthcare Exercise

Doctors at England's South Devon Healthcare designed this exercise to improve the function of your jaw joint, which can help you recover from jaw arthritis. To begin, sit upright in a chair, and close your mouth on your back teeth while placing the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth. Run your tongue backward while keeping it in contact with the roof of your mouth. You should feel a flex in your jaw muscles. Next, open your mouth, keeping the tongue in contact with the roof of your mouth. Once your tongue is pulled away from the roof of your mouth, hold that position for five seconds. Relax for five seconds and repeat this motion over five minutes.

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