TMJ Guide

TMJ Pain: An Insight and The Causes

There are around 360 joints in the human body, some of them being load-bearing type like the hip and knee joints while others help perform many physical functions. These joints are usually of two different varieties – hinge type and ball-and-socket type. However, the temporomandibular joint where the mandible, which is the lower jaw bone, attaches itself to the temporal bone of the skull is totally different from any of the above two. Part of it works like a hinge, permitting the jaws to open and close while another part allows the mandible to slide forward to gain a better bite. However, when something goes wrong with this joint, there is pain which at times can become quite unbearable.


All joints can be affected by various diseases including degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis causing pain and the temporomandibular joint does not prove to be an exception to this. In addition, when someone suffers from the TMJ disorder, the person can suffer from bruxism, i.e. incessant teeth clenching as well as from trauma. Apart from other causes, TMJ develops pain when the bone structure in the joint degenerates or there is considerable loss of the cartilage known as the disc.


Even though attempts are made to surgically repair the cartilage, it hasn’t proved successful yet. Although TMJ pain originates in the joint, the actual pain nevertheless is felt through the facial tissues, ligaments and muscles. Sometimes it radiates to the neck and shoulders too. The from the TMJ syndrome at times gets critical as the person is unable to open the mouth and becomes unable to eat. TMJ relief in such cases becomes very important.


However, studies have shown that the facial muscles, particularly the tempolaris that spreads out to the mandible or the lower jaw creates maximum pain which is often mistakenly attributed to migraine. TMJ jaw pain can be acute or chronic – acute when it begins unexpectedly but goes away on its own, and chronic when the pain persists and never goes away. Also, the jaw muscle often goes into spasm in its effort to hold the jaw bone tight and in the process becomes painful.


Notable Types Of TMJ Pain & What Causes Them


  • People who suffer from temporomandibular joint pain, also experience pain that is usually confined to a small area just in front or below the ear. Unlike pain caused due to infection or trauma to the ear, TMJ ear pain is not accompanied by any discharge or drainage from the ear, and it does not cause loss of hearing and other related problems.
  • TMJ induced headache is different from other forms of migraine that are caused by vision faults, strenuous eye work or that which accompanies high fever. Instead of experiencing relief when coming in contact with cool soothing air, it flares up considerably as the muscles in the joint undergo contractions.
  • Even though most people suffering from the TMJ disorder complain about facial soreness, some describe it as a shooting pain while many experience nothing but a dull ache. This is probably caused by the contraction of muscles which varies from person to person. In other words, the pain becomes intense when the muscles contract faster as compared to ‘dull ache’ when the tightening effect is of a slower nature.
  • Most people suffering from restricted jaw movement that include locked jaws, popping or clicking sound every time the jaw is opened or closed also experience pain that may vary from casual to agonizing type in fear of which some of them refrain from opening their mouth even to feed. This type of pain is caused by constriction of jaw muscles that react to misaligned jaws.
  • It is a common fact that victims of TMJ are prone to suffer from stiffness as well as soreness in the jaw, neck, back and the facial region. Some of them are caused by muscle contraction while others are related to pressure created at the area due to malfunction of the TMJ.

TMJ Pain Relief Measures


TMJ pain can be quite bad and thus it needs a quick and permanent remedy. Many people have tried many things – such as home TMJ remedies, exercises to relieve TMJ, and of course conventional medications that include drugs and surgery and also over the counter solutions that include mouthguards and splints. But the problem is, most of these TMJ treatment measures fail to deliver the results. Surgeries can be risky and should always be attempted after consultation with the physician. Home remedies can give some relief, as does exercises, but the relief is never permanent, as TMJ can be chronic in nature.


It seems that the only thing that works is holistic remedies. Treating the body as a whole, holistic remedies identify all the contributing factors that cause TMJ and then treat them all. Once all the contributing factors are treated, the symptoms go away and it is treated permanently. This is a better approach than conventional treatments because they just treat the symptoms and not the real underlying causes.

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