Have you ever experienced pain, tenderness, swelling, popping or clicking in your jaw? Maybe you’ve wondered what was going on, but just brushed it aside, hoping the pain and discomfort would pass quickly. Unfortunately it might not be that easy. You may be experiencing a TMJ disorder, an issue with the functionality of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ disorders are tricky to diagnose because the symptoms mirror those of other conditions, such as toothaches and headaches. It’s important, however, to diagnose TMJ disorders effectively so that proper steps can be taken to relieve symptoms and reduce pain. So what are the symptoms of TMJ disorders, and how do you spot TMJ disorders effectively?
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint that connects the lower jaw piece to the temporal bone on either side of the skull. The joint is flexible to allow movement up and down as well as side to side, and this movement is controlled by many small, intricate muscles attached to the jaw. TMJ issues arise when there is injury to the jaw from a blow to the face or jaw, osteo or rheumatoid arthritis formation, grinding or clenching of the teeth that causes constant wear and tear, and stress that leads to tightened muscles in the neck, shoulders and jaw. There is no one cause that always leads to TMJ disorders, but these situations are commonly cited as causes of TMJ pain.
TMJ symptoms vary, and there are a wide range of symptoms that people may experience. Most people will report some amount of pain and tenderness in the face, jaw, neck and shoulders that occurs when speaking, yawning or chewing as well as popping, grinding or clicking when moving the jaw. Many people will also find that they have limited range of motion in their jaws that prevents them from opening their mouths fully, or their jaws lock in a closed position causing discomfort and an inability to chew foods. There may be swelling on the sides of the face that stretches from the lower jaw to the temples, and you may feel that your teeth don’t fit properly in your mouth. In more extreme cases, TMJ symptoms can include dizziness, debilitating headaches, tinnitus, hearing problems that create an inability to fully register sounds and speech, and extreme toothaches. Many of these symptoms can also come from other conditions or issues, so it’s important to make sure you discover the TMJ facts about your condition.
If you are currently experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should see a TMJ specialist immediately. Only a TMJ doctor can determine if your jaw pain is TMJ or another condition. Once you’ve diagnosed your TMJ, you can work with your specialist to determine the best course of action to ease your pain and help you live more comfortably. There are a lot of possible causes of jaw pain, so make sure you get the TMJ facts from a TMJ specialist.