Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called "TMJ," are a group of conditions that causes pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Also refers to acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. This kind of condition affects women commonly than men.

People tend to ignore pain in the jaw area of the jaw joint or muscles, for they think it does not signal a serious problem. In general, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, mostly occurs in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little treatment. For some individuals it results into significant, long-term symptoms.


Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joints plays a major role in developing TMJ disorders. For most jaw joint and muscle problems, scientists don’t know the causes. Because the condition is more common in women than in men, scientists are exploring a possibility in linkage between female hormones and TMJ disorders.

As of now, there is no concrete scientific proof that clicking sounds in the jaw joint lead to serious problems. Jaw clicking is common in the general population. Jaw noises alone, without pain and/or limited jaw movement does not indicate a TMJ disorder and don’t need treatment.

People who have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may develop TMJ disease as a secondary condition.

Because there is no certified specialty for TMJ disorders in any specific medical field like dentistry or medicine, finding the right care can be difficult. Look for a doctor that specializes on pain management and nervous systems disorder


Numerous symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint, is the most common symptom.

Other symptoms include:

radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck,
stiffness of jaw muscles
locking of the jaw or limited movement
a change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.
painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth,

You may want to consult your doctor to rule out known causes of pain. Facial pain can be a symptom of many other conditions, such as sinus or ear infections, various types of headaches, and facial neuralgias (nerve-related facial pain). Ruling out these problems first helps in identifying TMJ disorders.

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