TMJ Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Pain in your jaw? You just may have TMJ. TMJ Disorder, also known as TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a disorder that starts at the hinge of your jaw and can affect your quality of life in a plethora of ways.

Whether you suffer from sleep apnea, constant headaches, or earaches, these symptoms and others might actually be connected to one issue. It’s worth looking into since no one wants to suffer if they don’t have to.

TMJ Disorder Causes

This is a bit difficult to determine on some level, due to the fact that the causes can be so varied. It usually doesn’t have one single cause, perhaps a culmination of many factors including genetics, arthritis, or sustain a jaw injury.

Some folks who develop jaw pain might have bruxism, or the grinding and clenching of the teeth, but most people who do this don’t develop TMJ Disorder unless their bruxism is chronic or long-term.

If you frequently open your jaw too wide to eat, this can cause or exacerbate any TMD symptoms. Disk erosion, joint damage from bone conditions, or an impact can cause your jaw hinge to misalign and cause symptoms.

Whatever the cause may be, it’s the symptoms that cause the most issue, and it’s the symptoms that need treatment. Determining what your symptoms are and if they’re connected is the first step to treatment.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

Quite a few of these symptoms overlap with each other, but if you’re experiencing any of them in large quantities or chronically, it may be worth looking into. Here’s a breakdown of common symptoms.

Problems in or around the head:

  • Often one-sided, similar to that of cluster headaches
  • A headache that feels like a sinus infection but isn’t
  • Frequent waking in the night due to tension headaches
  • Severe ear pain, usually coupled with roaring or tinnitus
  • Ocular pain, whether in the socket or the eye itself
  • Dizziness

Issues around the jaw or mouth:

  • Trouble opening your mouth all the way
  • Stiffness or lockjaw when talking, yawning, or swallowing
  • Excessive clenching both during the day and at night
  • Tongue spasms or uncontrolled tongue movements
  • Difficulty or pain when chewing
  • Clicking or popping in the jaw hinge when opening the mouth or chewing
  • Changes to your bite, or upper and lower teeth not aligning properly

Other symptoms:

  • Face swelling
  • Pain in the face
  • Neck and shoulder aching

As stated above, a lot of these symptoms overlap or affect the severity of each other. They can range from unbearable to manageable, but it’s prudent to seek the help of a professional anyway. For many people, symptoms seem to appear without a clear cause, but your doctor will likely diagnose based on the symptoms you mention and whether they seem connected.

TMJ Disorder Treatments

There are a surprising amount of specialists out there that want to help with this life-interrupting disorder, such as the TMJ Treatment Raleigh NC clinic. Talking to your primary care provider can be good for a diagnosis, but there’s only so much they might be able to do to help you.

Treatments that are recommended tend to be non-invasive and easily reversible because the safety and effectiveness for jaw joint and muscle disorders of this nature require more study. However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.

Specialists will often use non-invasive treatments such as a splint or a jaw guard, which can help lessen or even fully heal certain symptoms. Things such as surgery are controversial and often not recommended unless it’s an extreme case, talking to your specialist about this is very serious. Using anti-inflammatory medications and trying to refrain from eating hard-to-chew foods are ways you can treat symptoms right in your own home.

It’s Up To You

That’s about all. Whether your symptoms have only just begun or have progressed to being unbearable, it’s important to be mindful of your body and its needs. Remember, never put off what might mean the difference between permanent damage and total healing, especially in something as critical as your joints. It is highly recommended that you go get your jaw pain and other symptoms checked out by a medical professional.

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