TMJ disorders (or TMJDs) are problems or disorders with the temporomandibular joints. The temporomandibular joints are the joints that connect the lower jaw or mandible to the bone at the side of the head, known as the temporal bone. These joints are exercised each time one chews, talks or yawns. According to the National Institute of Dental and Cranofacial Research, these joints are quite complicated due to “the hinge and sliding motions.”
Here is an introduction to TMJ symptoms and possible causes.
What are TMJ Disorders?
TMJ disorders or syndrome is the name given to the disorders of the temporomandibular joint. According to the National Institute of Dental and Cranofacial Research, these disorders or conditions are usually classified into three categories:
- myofascial pain, which is the most common TMJ disorder
- internal derangement of the joint
Sufferers may have more than one condition at a time. There is the possibility that the condition may exist along with other problems and ailments such as, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders or chronic fatigue syndrome. The majority of the sufferers usually have mild to moderate forms of TMJ disorder.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
The causes of TMJ disorder are not clearly known. According to the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia, possible causes include stress, poor posture or diet, bad bite, teeth grinding, lack of sleep as well as fractures, dislocations and congenital structural problems. Sufferers of TMJ may also develop “trigger points” or contracted muscles in the jaw, neck and head areas which could cause aches and pains in these areas as well.
TMJ Symptoms and Signs
Due to the lack of concrete scientific evidence, the list of TMJ symptoms is also a probable one and sufferers may experience one or more of the symptoms at a given time. Here is the list of signs and symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint disorders.
- radiating pain in the facial and neck regions
- pain, tenderness or stiffness in the jaw
- difficulty in opening or closing the mouth due to misalignment or pain
- dull ache in the face
- clicking, popping, grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth
Individuals suffering from TMJ pain or those who suspect having TMJD may need to see a variety of health care professionals, such as a dentist, an ENT and a general physician, for a diagnosis to be complete and thorough. Imaging tests may also be recommended before making a final diagnosis.
Suffering from TMJ pain and its related conditions can be quite troublesome and can make everyday life and work difficult for an individual. Individuals suffering from any of the possible TMJ symptoms should consult a healthcare professional at the earliest.