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Jaw Exercises

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1205
Joined: Jan 2013

Trismus/TMJ is a condition that affects many of us (raising hand) who have undergone radiation and/or surgery. Just like swallowing, "use it or lose it" is the mantra. Here are some exercises given to me by my Speech/Language Pathologist at Johns Hopkins. As always, check with your doctors before doing anything. I have an entire notebook filled with great tips on subjects from dry mouth to exercises for shoulders to diet from Johns Hopkins. I'm re-typing them and saving in MS Word to post later on. Coming from one of the top H&N centers in the country. they can only be deemed helpful.

BTW....These are especially fun to do in the car and watch the reaction of other drivers ~lol~  

"T"

 

Ideally to be performed 1-3X daily


Jaw Opening
Open your jaw as wide as you can until you feel stretching, but no pain. Hold this position for 5 seconds, Relax. Repeat 10X

Side-to-Side Movement
Move your jaw to the right as far as you can until it pulls but does not hurt. Hold it there for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat 10X 

Same exercise to the left.

Increasing Circular Jaw Movement
Pretend to chew (as though you were chewing gum) in small circles with mouth closed, rotating to the right and then to the left. Alternate right and left for a total of 20 times.

 

Tongue Depressors (only if <30mm MIO)
Use wooden tongue depressors, adding one more each day, hold between upper and lower teeth or gums (about 1/4 of stick in mouth). Try to increase to 30 seconds.

Alternately, use one tongue depressor and slowly turn it from flat to sideways, gently stretching mouth opening to accommodate. Again, hold for 10-30 seconds as tolerated.

Mouth Opening Check
Monitor mouth/jaw opening. Insert three fingers (between thumb and pinky) into mouth. You should be able to do this easily. 

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 4439
Joined: Mar 2012

and I think we should bring this up (and the neck exercises) every couple months....I have faithfully done both neck and jaw exercises since the beginning and have no problems now.....but well remember when it hurt to open only as much as say, taking a bite of a sandwich.  These exercises can be done watching TV, or reading on the computer.....and everyone who has had rads to the head can benifit from them.  It would be the pits having to get a PEG simply because your jaw was locked up....

So....everybody who just finished treatment.....or has a loved one who has just finished.....do these exercises to keep flexible.

p

TracyLynn72
Posts: 835
Joined: May 2013

this is one area where I am not doing so well.  I'm very hesitant to open my mouth very wide knowing that I only am hinged on one side.  My surgeon told me I needed to start stretching my jaw open more and honestly the thought terrifies me.  I keep thinking...I only have one hinge and I don't want to hurt it!  

 

 

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1205
Joined: Jan 2013

Tracy,

Run these by your surgeon before doing anything!

"T"

TracyLynn72
Posts: 835
Joined: May 2013

pretty much what he has told me to do.  I had much better range before rads.  The radiation definitely made me swell up again and now I'm getting better so I need to do more jaw exercises.  This is a great thread!  Thank you! 

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 4439
Joined: Mar 2012

fingers....one or two...just till you start to feel the muscle pull a little....and leave your fingers there for a count of 5 or 10....you don't want that muscle to freeze where it's at....think what going to the dentist will be like....YIKES!!  Do talk to your Dr. .... I honestly think your one hinge will do you just fine, it's all in tact and as it was the day you were born.

p

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

I managed to keep both hinges but still have trouble opening wide enough to eat a sandwich without a knife & fork. Wish one of my doctors had suggested the exercises or that I got "overs" on this one.

Duggie88's picture
Duggie88
Posts: 687
Joined: Feb 2010

I do my exercises at night while watching the Phillies lose which may be the reason they are so painfull. I've been practicing putting my foot in my mouth for years so I guess I had a head start on this one before cancer.

Good post..............enjoy the day

      Jeff

SylMarie
Posts: 17
Joined: May 2016

I am also a patient at JH, and traveled from out-of-state to have my surgery. Are you from the Baltimore area? I am asking because other than my surgeon there, I was not referred to any other doctors or therapists at the institution while I was there during my initial consult and pre-op visit, or during the 8 days post-surgery. Maybe they just assume that if you're from out-of-state there is no point in providing other support? I am now back in my home state with a local oral surgeon (with whom the Hopkins surgeon works frequently), who only changes my gauze packing and sees me until my follow-up visit at Hopkins in August. No one gave me any exercises to do, and my jaw is very tight on my left side, which is the side my tumor was removed. 

RottiesMom's picture
RottiesMom
Posts: 83
Joined: Jun 2016

My Radiation Oncologist gave me some exercises to do...you have some extra ones!  I have saved and started doing them!  I I have had tmj for years!

Joanne

Joanne  

LiseA's picture
LiseA
Posts: 205
Joined: Jan 2016

I was doing them after a few weeks post surgery. Worked up to four fingers pointing inside mouth and now it's painful with two. probeen is the soreness where the lip split in the corner,  sores in inner cheek too. Feels so painful when I try to open my mouth. Maybe in a couple weeks things will be easier.   Thanks for the reminder.  What about neck exercises?  I had a neck dissection and since rads, my neck is super stiff, but again, not able to do much stretching because of the burns. They did say to wait until those "tears" in skin heal.  

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