Lockjaw Treatment

Lockjaw (temporomandibular joint disorder) is caused by the tetanus bacteria. The bacteria will enter the body through an open wound. The bacteria will produce a toxin, which will cause spasticity (stiffness) of a muscle. Tetanus normally affects the neck and jaw muscles, so severely that the individual will have difficulty swallowing and opening their mouth. Tremors and muscle spasms are also two very common symptoms. The individuals may also exhibit with dyspnea (difficulty breathing), as well.


Lockjaw is more common in children that have not had their childhood vaccinations. Tetanus bacteria cannot be spread from person to person, but it can be found in dust, manure, and soil. It will enter an open would and if untreated over a period of time the prognosis will be very poor.

  • DTaP vaccine is administered at 2, 4, and 6 months and then again at 18 months. A Td (booster injection) should be administered at 4 years of age, but no later than 6. Tetanus is also responsible for pertussis (whooping cough) and diphtheria.


  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Tremors and Seizure activity
  • Fever
  • Diaphoresis (Intense sweating)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Tachycardia
  • Headache
  • Muscle Spasticity
  • Muscle Spasms (abdominal spasms are very common)

Incubation Period

The incubation period is considered to be from the time of exposure until the onset of symptoms. The incubation period can vary, but 8 days is the most common. Anywhere from 3 days-3weeks have been noted, but the shorter incubation period the more contaminated the would.


  • TIG (tetanus immune globulin) and/or vaccine containing tetanus toxoid
  • NSAIDs (Advil)
  • Hot or Cold Packs
  • Soft Diet
  • Chew Gum and Yawn Often
  • Physical Therapy
  • Massage Therapy
  • Night Guard
  • Antidepressants
  • Antianxiety Medications
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • Trigger-Point Injections
  • Arthrocentesis (needle inserted into the joint to cleanse it out) and dislodge the a disc.
  • Arthroscopy (small cut to the front of ear and tool inserted to remove inflamed tissue and realign joint)
  • Open-Joint Surgery (only done in severe cases)