The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.
The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of problems, such as arthritis or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth, but many people habitually clench their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be alleviated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Severe TMJ disor-ders may require surgical repair.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
– Pain or tenderness of your jaw
– Aching pain in and around your ear
– Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
– Aching facial pain
– Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there’s no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don’t need treatment for a TMJ disorder.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Seek medical attention if you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can’t open or close your jaw completely. Your doctor, chiropractor, dentist, or a TMJ specialist can discuss possible causes and treatments of your problem.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth.
Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
– The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
– The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
– The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders isn’t clear.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
During the physical exam, your doctor or dentist will probably:
– Listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth
– Observe the range of motion in your jaw
– Press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort
If your doctor or dentist suspects a problem with your teeth, you may need X-rays. A CT scan can provide detailed images of the bones involved in the joint, and MRIs can reveal problems with the joint’s disk.
Nonpharmaceutical treatments for TMJ disorder include:
– Bite guards (oral splints). Often, people with jaw pain will benefit from wearing a soft or firm de-vice inserted over their teeth, but the reasons why these devices are beneficial are not well un-derstood.
– Physical therapy. Treatments might include ultrasound, moist heat and ice — along with exer-cises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles.
– Counseling. Education and counseling can help you understand the factors and behaviors that may aggravate your pain, so you can avoid them. Examples include teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on your chin, or biting fingernails.
If you or someone you know is suffering with TMJ Disorder, give Nardone Chiropractic a call today.