What is TMJD? TMD? TMJ?
TMJD and TMD stand for Tempomandibular Joint Disorder; TMJ stands for Tempo-Mandubular Joint, and these three are all commonly used interchangeably to describe the pain, discomfort, or dysfunction of the TMJ.
The TM-Joint itself is anatomically located in front of the lowest part of the ear and it joins the lower jaw (mandible) and the temporal bone in the skull. This joint allows for a variety of movements in the jaw, including up and down, side-to-side, and circular grinding motions. This joint and the associated muscles allow us to speak, chew, whistle, make facial expressions and more.
What are some TMJ Symptoms & Causes?
Many people have TMJ symptoms at some point in their lives, but when the issue becomes progressively worse, it starts interfering with everyday life. Some symptoms include:
- jaw pain and headaches
- ear pain
- bite problems (mismatched bites, difficulty chewing)
- locking jaws
- clicking and popping when the jaw moves
- neck or face pains
- shoulder pain or fatigue
These conditions can range from tiring and slightly annoying to incredibly painful and debilitating.
Among the scientific and medical community, the causes and effects of TMJD are still being studied and it is believed there is no singular explanation. Listed below are some suggested causes and symptoms among many.
- Bruxism: A movement disorder occurring during sleep that can overload the TMJ as a repetitive strain injury and can also exacerbate muscle pain.
- Estrogen: Adolescent girls can experience idiopathic or internal condylar resorption. Perimenopausal women also frequently complain of TMJ sensitivity and bite changes secondary to the presence of estrogen receptors in the TMJ.
- Autoimmune: Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, Sjogrens, Reiters syndrome, and seronegative arthritis can be responsible for jaw pain and bite changes.
- Joint laxity: Elongated ligaments allow the disc to easily slip out of position.
- Trauma: Macrotrauma, bad falls, blows to the chin, intubation, and wisdom tooth extraction can all lead to joint strain or sprain.
- Sleep: Lack of quality sleep can lead to widespread pain and fatigue. Healing occurs with 7-8 hours of deep restorative sleep.
- Arthritis: Arthritis can be localized as an osteo or traumatic arthritis, or systemic as an auto immune disease. This may cause inflammation. Inflammation may be localized.
- Dental Work: Bite problems caused by incomplete bite adjustment
- Emotional Stress/Anger Issues: Natural tendency to bite down on the jaw causes muscle tension
What are some TMJD Treatments?
For a client in a progressed stage of TMJD, you may want to have the condition evaluated by a qualified and conscious specialist. They may offer a number of other treatments including a bite guard for sleep (to prevent grinding teeth during sleep), braces to correct bite alignment issues, muscle relaxers and steroid injections to ease pain temporarily, chiropractic adjustments, and/or massage (which is what I can offer). Please check the other pages on this website to learn more.