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An Overview: Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ disorder

By HERWriter
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According to the United States National Library of Medicine, ʺTemporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.ʺ

The TMJ Association website revealed ʺapproximately 35 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ problems at any given time. While both men and women experience these disorders, the majority of those seeking treatment are women in their childbearing years. The ratio of women to men increases with the severity of symptoms, approaching nine to one for patient with major limitations in jaw movements and chronic, unrelenting pain.ʺ

Symptoms of TMJ include the following:
• Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
• Pain in jaw muscles or tenderness of the jaw
• Jaw muscle stiffness
• Limited movement or locking of the jaw
• Earache, ear pain or pressure
• Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
• Chronic headaches
• Dull, aching pain in the face
• Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
• Pain in the neck and shoulders
• A bite that feels "off"
• Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
• Dizziness
• Vision problems

TJM pain can come and go. The pain is generally dull. Also, some patients report no pain but difficulty closing their mouth or jaw.

Depending on your symptoms, you may have to see more than one health care practitioner. First, start with your main doctor. If you have ear pain, contact an ear, nose and throat doctor. Also, contact a dentist if you are grinding your teeth.

Treatment is very basic for TMJ. Treatment for TMJ can include easy stretching techniques, daily exercises for your jaw area, moist heat or ice packs, and a splint or mouth guard.

The TMJ Association recommends the following if you think you might have TMJ:

• Avoid treatments that cause permanent changes in the bite or jaw. This includes crown work, bridge work or orthodontics to change the bite, grinding down teeth (occlusal adjustment), or repositioning splints.

• Try eating soft foods with an ice pack on your muscle joints connected to your lower jaw.

• Try an over-the-counter or prescription pain medicines for temporary relief.

• Avoid, where possible, surgical treatment. There have been no long-term studies to test the safety and effectiveness of these procedures.

• Avoiding extreme jaw movements, like wide yawning and gum chewing.


TMJ disorders: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001227.htm

Welcome | tmj.org. TMJA. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://www.tmj.org/site

Reviewed December 20, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments

One treatment that was not included in what was suggested is chiropractic care. Not all chiropractors may feel comfortable treating TMJD, however; most are trained in dealing with the biomechanical issues involving the TMJ. I have an article on my website about how I, as a chiropractor, would treat it http://www.drtchiro.com/TMJD.htm. Although pathology must also be ruled out, chiropractors would also refer to specialists in those circumstances, most TMJ problems are biomechanical in nature. This may be due to an abnormal bite (and repetitive trauma), an injury to the jaw or head and the adaptation of the movement pattern (gait), scar tissue formation and range of motion of the jaw. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me or visit my website http://www.DrTChiro.com

December 21, 2011 - 9:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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