Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

The temporomandibular joints connect the jaw to the rest of the skull. They are located on either side of the head, in front of each ear.

Problems with these joints or the muscles that work them can cause jaw pain, headaches, and other problems. They can also interfere with talking, eating, and other regular activities.

Main Street Health offers several non-invasive therapies to help treat the pain of TMJ disorders.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge-like connection between the jaw bone and the temporal bones of the skull. Temporomandibular joints are located just in front of each ear on either side of the human head.

TMJ is the common short form for temporomandibular joint disorders. Temporomandibular joint disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw and surrounding tissues.

There are three main categories of TMJ diagnosis:

  1. 1) myofascial TMJ (sore jaw or facial pain)
  2. 2) internal TMJ (injury, dislocation, or deformity of the jaw)
  3. 3) degenerative TMJ (osteoarthritis in the jaw joint)

What are the causes of TMJ?

Even though TMJ is a fairly common condition, scientists still aren’t sure what causes it. In some cases, jaw pain or stiffness results from a specific issue, but in many cases, it seems to start without warning.

Among known TMJ causes are:

  • teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • habitual or excessive jaw clenching
  • trauma to the jaw (such as sports injuries )
  • inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis
  • misalignment of the jaw or teeth (malocclusion)

It’s important to note, though, that you can have one or more of these conditions and still not develop TMJ.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ affects people differently. Among the most common TMJ symptoms are:

  • jaw pain
  • neck pain
  • facial pain
  • headaches
  • aching pain in or around the ears
  • grating sensation when talking or chewing
  • difficulty opening or closing the mouth (“locked” jaw)
  • jaw clicking or popping, especially if accompanied by pain

A popping or clicking jaw by itself is actually fairly common and may not require treatment. Jaw noise along with pain or other TMJ symptoms, however, is probably a sign you should book a professional assessment.

What is the treatment for TMJ?

Because TMJ disorders have a range of causes and symptoms, TMJ treatments are equally varied.

Common treatments for TMJ pain relief are:

  • massage therapy
  • physical therapy
  • TMJ exercises
  • acupuncture
  • TMJ pillows

Common recommendations for preventing jaw pain and TMJ headaches include:

  • eat soft foods
  • don’t chew gum
  • avoid sticky or chewy foods
  • keep your jaw relaxed (don’t clench)
  • stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles

When the underlying cause of TMJ is an injury or deformity, more invasive treatments may be used to correct the problem. Popular corrective treatments include dental appliances (TMJ splints) and surgery.

Before you drastically alter your bite or undergo an operation, let the professional team at Main Street Health show you some of the options for non-invasive, drug-free TMJ therapy. Contact us to book your appointment .

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