Looking to learn about temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder? The first thing you need to know is that they can be serious, painful conditions. The second thing is that they can be treated. Of course, there’s a lot more to go over as TMJ disorders are both complex and can have a huge impact on your life.
That’s why I’m going to go over some of the most important facts, symptoms, and considerations regarding TMJ disorder. By understanding these factors, you’ll be in a better position to identify problems and seek treatment.
TMJ Symptoms Are Often Felt in the Jaw
TMJ disorder can result in a huge variety of symptoms. Unfortunately, there are so many symptoms that it’s essentially impossible to list them all out. Unsurprisingly, many of those symptoms occur in and around the jaw. Some symptoms include:
- Jaw pain on one or both sides of your face
- Difficulty chewing and pain while chewing
- Locked jaw, or the inability to open or close your jaw
- A popping or clicking jaw while opening/closing your mouth or chewing
The more severe the pain or louder the popping sound, the more likely that you’re suffering from a severe TMJ disorder. Sometimes, mild TMJ symptoms will simply go away. However, severe symptoms may require professional treatment. And unfortunately, TMJ symptoms aren’t limited to just the jaw. Let’s look at some other symptoms.
Pain Caused by TMJ Disorders Can Spread Beyond the Jaw
You might think that TMJ disorder would be limited primarily to the jaw and connecting joints. Unfortunately, a TMJ Disorder can cause pain many other places. Your neck might be sore, dental issues could emerge, and TMJ disorder can also cause pain in the muscles around your face, neck, and other areas.
TMJ Disorder can also cause:
- Pain in and around your ears
- Ringing in your ears
- Pain around or behind your eyes
- Tightness in the muscles across your face
- Tension headaches
So what’s the cause of the disorder and pain? Let’s take a look.
The Cause of a TMJ Disorder is Devilishly Tricky to Determine
Not only do TMJ disorders affect many different areas, but they can be caused by different factors. An injury you suffer while playing sports might be the cause. Or, common wear-and-tear could be wearing your temporomandibular joint out.
TMJ disorder can be caused by:
- Arthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Clenching of the jaw
- Teeth grinding
- Various connective tissue diseases
Some lifestyle choices may also increase your risks of suffering from a TMJ disorder. For example, if you eat hard foods and candy, it may strain your jaw. Research has also found that smokers are more likely to suffer from a TMJ disorder.
TMJ Disorders Have Been Linked to Sleep Apnea
Further, other conditions, such as sleep apnea, have been linked to TMJ disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and TMJ disorders often occur at the same time and appear to be closely related. In fact, research has found that those who have OSA symptoms had a 73 percent higher rate of TMJ disorder symptoms.
So why are sleep apnea and TMJ disorder so closely linked? It’s possible that the TMJ disorder is obstructing airways, thus producing sleep apnea. This, in turn, could result in a poorer night’s sleep, which could reduce productive and cause irritability.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition in its own right and should be treated. Speaking of treatment…
Fortunately, TMJ Can Be Treated
The last thing you need to know is that TMJ disorder is that they can be treated. The type of treatment that’ll be effective, however, will depend on the symptoms you’re suffering from and what’s the root cause of your condition. Just as there are many different causes and symptoms, there are many different forms of treatment.
You can even try some treatments at home. An ice pack can provide pain relief and reduce swelling. Over-the-Counter pain relievers may also provide temporary pain relief. Unfortunately, however, home remedies often aren’t enough.
However, a TMJ specialist may be able to offer more effective treatment, providing better pain relief and addressing the underlying causes. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, may provide both immediate pain relief while also helping your jaw heal.
Physical therapy likewise may restore strength in vital areas. Bite orthotics, meanwhile, can help you properly align your jaw. So if home remedies aren’t working and your TMJ disorder isn’t healing on its own, consider reaching out to a specialist.