Over the past several weeks my jaw pops every time I move it. It's to the point now where Im constantly opening my mouth to pop it and pretend I'm yawning so people don't think I'm a crazy person. Its sore and tight and sometimes doesn't pop but feels like it needs to. I have an earache on the same side starting a few days ago when the popping started getting worse. I have been eating primarily raw over the past 3 or 4 weeks, only have had meat a couple times and I am wondering if it's related and how I can fix this (more details on my diet here- http://paleohacks.com/questions/48575/does-anyone-eat-a-primarily-raw-diet#axzz1SaKUOEuI) thanks.
In addition to the massage therapist, you really need to be eating more gelatin. It's essential for joint/cartilage health. Traditionally, it came to us in the form of home made slow-cooked bone broths when our ancestors conscientiously ate nose to tail. If you're not eating traditional bone broths daily, you could buy a well-made powdered gelatin. Great Lakes Bovine Gelatin and Bernard Jensen Gelatin are both made from grass-fed cows and are processed in a way that keeps free glutamic acid (like MSG) from forming. You can stir the flavorless gelatin into hot drinks like tea or coffee, add it to smoothies (it has 9g of protein per tsp, so it's a great protein boost, too), or make traditional jell-o like desserts/foods.
Trigger points of the temporalis and pterygoid muscles, which are responsible for most of your jaw movement, together with masseter and a couple of others, could be causing your problem. Trigger points are a kind of dysfunction where, basically, individual fibers within a muscles, rather than entire muscle, are tight and chronically contracted, creating pain and other phenomena that many doctors miss. Trigger points in these same muscles are also notorious for causing ear and tooth aches.
A massage therapist is able to correct this issue, but I would recommend seeing a chiropractor, since in addition to also having the knowledge to alleviate your trigger points, they are also skilled in restoring normal motion to the TMJ, if there is any dysfunction. It is all generally fairly easy to treat. Best of luck!
FYI since I don't see where anyone else has mentioned it ... The "popping" or "cracking" you feel and hear is the small disc between your jawbone and skull getting momentarily stuck too far forward and then snapping back into place - sometimes from slightly stretched ligaments. Those who have mentioned their jaw gets "stuck" have had this disc move even farther forward until it does, indeed, get stuck and can actually keep you from closing your mouth. (Take it from me, this can be REALLY painful.) If this happens, the jaw may need to be manually moved slightly down and back for enough space to be created in the joint to allow the release of the trapped disc (and may take someone else to help since it is hard to get the proper leverage on yourself). Once inflammation is present from the joint/disc being irritated, the problem becomes more acute and you need to take some kind of anti-inflammatory (whatever you are comfortable with - ibuprofen, turmeric, etc.) and rest the joint as much as possible.
Multiple things can cause this and, yes, too much or too heavy chewing like from your gum or raw vegetables can be one of them. In my case, it was a wisdom tooth that didn't have enough room and was impinging on the joint and the problem gradually resolved once it was removed. So, my suggestion would be to watch carefully for what seems to trigger the problem and check with your dentist and chiropractor as others have suggested.
You could have a mild type of TMJ that is exasperated by chewing. I have TMJ and beef jerky, carrot sticks, almonds - anything that requires some real hardy chewing will make my jaw ache and start popping. If it is inflamed enough or out of joint the pain could radiate to your ear and feel like an ear ache. Advil - (sorry I don't know the Paleo version) and resting your jaw will help a lot. My chiro sometimes does some thing that helps when it is acting up also.
take a look at your bite in the mirror. are only your molars actually touching, with your bite opening a bit as you continue forwards? a posterior open bite like this is a common cause of TMJ symptoms. heavy chewing, as is called for with raw foods, will strain your joints as your lower jaw tries to flex forwards and up for stability. if this is the case for you, you may need orthodontics to correct the open bite. specifically you will need upper molar intrusion aided by temporary anchorage devices. surgery is an option as well.
or you could just cook your food to soften it up. we've only been doing it for half a million years or so...
Oh the joy of jaw-cracking...NOT.
I have suffered from TMJ for years. Finally got rid of it over the past year. A lot of it had to do with stress and anxiety. The TMJ caused the jaw cracking for me.
My dentist did make me a custom mouth guard/bite plate (very pricey, but my insurance covered one for a lifetime).
This helped a lot. It helped realign my bite. But always be cautious when having your bite realigned. Sometimes it can make the problem worse. Make sure your dentist is skilled and has done this type of procedure before.
I also did a bunch of mouth, check and jaw exercises. My favorite one is where you look in the mirror and try and slowly open your mouth as even as you can, until you can't open it any more. Hold for few seconds for a strech and then do it over a few times. During this strech, my jaw would always click, but over time it stopped.
Everyone once in a while I still have jaw clicking, but it's not constant as before and I'm no longer in any pain.
I would suggest seeing a dentist or orthadontist first and foremost. They can evaulate your mouth for eveness and any alighment problems. Sometimes it's an easy fix, and sometimes it takes time to be fixed.
Do you have sinus problems? It's possible you have a sinus infection and it's causing jaw pain. Here's a list of symptoms. I don't know if a sinus infection could actually cause your jaw to pop, but it can definitely cause jaw pain.
I have sinus problems as well as TMJ, so I get a lot of ear and jaw pain (and jaw popping). My jaw has gotten stuck in various positions as well; however, I never feel like I need to pop my jaw. Popping my jaw is always painful and I move my mouth around in strange ways to try and avoid it. The only time I purposely pop my jaw is when I have a headache. Somehow popping my jaw relieves tension and helps relax my neck and surrounding muscles.