Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located in front of the ear where your skull and lower jaw meet.
TMJ permits lower jaw to move and function. TMJ disorders have variety of symptoms and are common.
TMJ problems are painful and the pain occurs where the jaw meets the skull. TMJ syndrome can affect both men and women, but it is common in women.
- Excessive muscular activity around the jaw that is due to constant grinding or clenching of the teeth. Patient may be unaware of the behavior while sleeping unless they are told by the bed partner.
- Stress often leads to unreleased nervous energy
- Arthritis can cause uncomfortable inflammation of the TMJ and results in swelling in the adjoining tissues, ligaments and muscles. People suffering with arthritis have difficulty in opening and closing the mouth as well as other painful temporomandibular joint symptoms.
- Displacement or dislocation of the disk that is located between the jawbone and the socket.
- Habitual gum chewing or nail biting
- If the bite of the upper and lower teeth is not aligned properly, jaw movement can take a toll on the TMJ and strain the surrounding muscles.
TMJ disorder usually occurs because of the unbalanced activity of the jaw muscles and jaw muscle spasm and overuse. Common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder include:
- Grinding and crunching sounds are common inpatients with TMJ disorder.
- Patients with TMJ complain headache and facial pain. Pain often becomes worse while opening or closing the jaw.
- Patients with this disorder notice ear pain and are usually in front or below the ear.
- Patients with this disorder report dizziness.
- Recurrent clicking in the temporomandibular joint. Clicking occurs at any point in the movement of the jaw and there will be crackling when you try to move the jaw bone from side to side.
- A stiff joint that cannot move far.
- Treatment can be done with heat and ice therapy. Immediately after the injury to the TMJ, cold pack helps for relieving pain.
- Keep your teeth apart to give rest to your jaws. Recognize when teeth grinding is occurring and find the method to stop the activity.
- Physical therapy such as passively opening and closing the jaw, massage, and electrical stimulation decreases the pain and increase the range of motion and strength of the joint.
- Stress management techniques assist in reducing muscle tension. Biofeedback recognizes increased muscle activity and provides method to control them.
- Dental appliance can be used which fits over the teeth, prescribed for night. It balances the bite and reduces or eliminates teeth grinding or bruxism.
- If all the medications and other therapies fail, surgery is indicated.
- Other treatments include relaxation techniques, learning to reduce stress and gentle exercises that stretch the muscles and help with relaxation.