If you are experiencing pain in your neck, jaw and shoulders then you could be suffering from a number of possible conditions. One of the most common causes of jaw pain is TMJ disorder, also known as TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ disorders come with a variety of very uncomfortable and even painful symptoms such as:
The Symptoms of TMJ disorders
- Headache / Migraine
- Jaw joint pain
- Limited mouth opening
- Ear congestion
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loose teeth
- Sleep apnea
- Clenching or grinding
- Jaw joint clicking or popping
- Chewing difficulties
- Eye pain, ear pain
- Postural problem - neck, back pain
- Tingling of the fingers
- Hot and cold-sensitive teeth
- Nervousness or insomnia
- Facial pain
Are the symptoms of TMJ disorders really associated with your bite?
The lower jaw has two joints or Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs). The TMJ has a condyle of the head that rests in a depression right in front of both ears. If you put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close you will feel the joints moving down and forward as you open. The lower jaw is held in place by the joint and ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Over time the joint can become inflamed due to repeated use of the joint while experiencing a bad bite due to trauma.
This TMJ pain can cause symptoms of ear pain as the complex nerves and delicate muscles are out of balance, sending pain to the neck, shoulders, and back. This is known as referred pain.
What are the possible causes of TMJ disorders?
The TMJ is a very complex joint, combing the opening and closing hinge motion with a back-and-forth sliding movement.There is cartilage covering the joint along with a small disc that helps to cushion the joint as it closes. 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, and some risk factors include various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, jaw injury, chronic grinding of teeth, and connective tissue disease.
How can TMJ disorders and the accompanying pain be treated?
The approach to treat TMJ pain at Vincelli Orthodontics is based on psychology. An important factor is whether this pain has flared up suddenly and is acute or if it is long-term chronic pain. Just like other types of chronic pain, you can either accept temporary medications or treatments to help mask the symptoms making you more comfortable or you can have the actual underlying cause treated for a more permanent solution.