Your face hurts.
And your jaw hurts.
Your ear also hurts.
Don’t forget your neck.
Your neck definitely hurts.
You have TMJ.
I get it.
Well, I don’t. But my wife does.
TMJ (or temporomandibular joint syndrome/disorder) affects your temporomandibular joint and your entire life.
What is TMJ?
TMJ Disorder is a collection of issues affecting the jaw.
Whether it’s caused by skeletal issues, arthritis, or tissue and muscle problems it generally is lumped under the label “TMJ.”
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and whatever their cause TMJ disorders cause a lot of pain when this joint moves.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint is what you probably think of as your jaw joint. It’s the hinge that your lower jaw moves on when opening and closing your mouth.
You can feel it working by placing a few fingers in front of your earlobe and chewing.
When something causes that hinge to operate improperly it can be quite painful.
Your temporal bone sits sort of between your eye and ear, and your mandible is your lower jaw. The temporomandibular joint is where those two connect.
The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to a localized pain disorder called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. – via medicinenet.com
The temporomandibular joints are complex structures containing muscles, tendons, and bones. Injury to or disorders of these structures can all result in pain in the jaw area. Jaw pain may occur on one side or on both sides, depending upon the cause. Also depending upon the exact cause, the pain may occur when chewing or may occur at rest. Additionally, other medical conditions not related to the TMJ may cause perceived pain in the jaw area. – via medicinenet.com
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
If you suffer from TMJ you may experience a wide range of symptoms, depending on the cause and other factors.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone and the skull. The injured temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, crackling, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches, including migraines; tooth grinding (bruxism); Eustachian tube dysfunction; and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint syndrome is also known as temporomandibular joint disorder. – via medicinenet.com
Basically: either a misalignment of bones, or bad behavior from muscles, can cause TMJ.
The surrounding muscles will tighten, support muscles will compensate, tissues will swell, and your day will be ruined.
Risk factors for TMJ
There are a number of risk factors, including:
- Poor posture
- Women ages 18-44
- Previous jaw trauma
- Misaligned teeth
Remember that these are just risk factors. Everyone can get it.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of TMJ talk to your doctor.
Always keep a qualified medical professional (who specializes in TMJ, if you can find one) in your support network.
Symptoms of TMJ
Your main symptom will be pain in your jaw. Especially around the joint.
The muscles in the face, neck, shoulders, and back are all tightly connected. As a result you might also experience pain around your face, eyes, forehead, ear, shoulders, and upper back. Neck pain is very common.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Cracking sounds in the ears
- Sense of fullness of the ears
- Blurry vision
- Tight, stiff, or sore jaw or neck muscles
- Muscle spasms in the jaw
- Chin numbness or tingling
- Swelling, or a lump in the temple area
- Difficulty chewing
- Locking or dislocation of the jaw
These symptoms can quickly add up and take over your life.
Don’t let them.
What should you do now?
I’d recommend looking at 3 Steps to Reduce Pain During a TMJ episode.
That post is my basic response plan for my wife when she has an episode.
From there you can check out our facebook page.
Make sure you join the group and add your voice!
TMJ pain is big game, and we’re going to need all the help we can get on the way.