TMJ Guide
 

What Is TMJ: Causes, Symptoms
And The Treatment

TMJ stands for the Temporomandibular Joint which is located where the lower jaw bone called the mandible joins the temporal bone of the skull in the form of a hinge, thus allowing the jaws to open or close. Apart from acting as a hinge, the temporomandibular joint also permits the lower jaw to slide forward to facilitate a good bite as also to align itself for comfortable biting, chewing of food items. The TMJ is conveniently provided with a soft disc or a cartilage that serves as a buffer between the temporal bone and the mandible, absorbing minor shocks caused to the joint while chewing or biting. Moreover, the joint is linked with facial tissues, muscles, nerves and ligaments that help functioning of this jaw joint satisfactorily.

 

What Is The TMJ Disorder And What Causes It?

 

The temporomandibular joint often creates problem that is commonly termed as TMJ disorder. It is associated with pain, difficulty in masticating, problems in opening or closing the mouth, headache, ear ache, ear ringing (Tinnitus), loss of hearing and many other troubles that are difficult to cure.

 

On account of its proximity to the ear, set of teeth, the muscles, nerves, ligaments and bones, each one of them should be separately tackled to reach a conclusive analysis of the cause and effect of the actual disorder. Incidentally, researchers are still not very sure whether tinnitus causes TMJ or vice versa. As a matter of fact, the nerves that serve the middle ear bones are also connected to the temporomandibular joint and hence their relationship with each other may not be overlooked. To be more precise, a ligament (known as Pinto’s Ligament) adjoins the temporomandibular joint with the smaller bones within the mid ear causing Otomandibular Syndrome that has come under the research of Dr. Harold Arlan, MD, Otolaryngology Surgery’s Assistant Clinical Professor at the Medicine College and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rudkers Medical School. Dr. Arlan conclusively believes that Tinnitus and TMJ disorders are interdependent of each other.

 

However the TMJ syndrome is often caused due to chronic or severe inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bruxism and trauma. As a matter of fact, the jaw joint like any other joint in the body can be affected by arthritis resulting in disintegration of the joint, gradual loss of cartilage, and in some cases, the formation of unwanted new bone structure and this upsets its normal movement. Rheumatoid arthritis, as we are aware, causes inflammation of the joint, which in the case of TMJ can have alarming effects in children. Since it is an autoimmune disease concerning antibody factor against immunoglobulin G (IgG), it creates various inflammatory disorders in the TMJ.

 

Since TMJ can be diagnosed through checking the symptoms, these are listed below for the convenience of the reader. Nevertheless, while some of the symptoms are easy to find, there are others that are tricky and deceptive.

 

Simple, Easy To Recognize TMJ Symptoms

 

  1. Pain in the jaw; difficulty in opening and closing the jaw; clicking or popping sound with the opening or closing the mouth.
  2. Inflammation of the temporomandibular joint accompanied by tenderness in the neighboring muscles, ligaments, tissues and bones.
  3. Facial pain (myofascial pain syndrome) that often becomes unbearable.
  4. Headache and earache.
  5. Feeling of stuffiness in the ears.
  6. Sinus stuffiness.

 

TMJ Symptoms Which Are Deceptive Or Misleading

 

  1. Sensitivity to light, pain behind the eyeball, feeling of pressure behind the eyes, blurred vision, night vision seriously affected.
  2. Cluster headache, migraine type of headache, sinus type headache and painful condition in the forehead, scalp and the hair roots.
  3. Tinnitus type of ringing, hissing, whooshing, roaring sounds in the ear.
  4. Progressive hearing loss with feeling of fullness in single or both ears.
  5. Pain in the neck and shoulders in chronic cases.
  6. Sore throat, even though there is no infection or other peripheral factor.
  7. Numbness in fingers.
  8. Dull back pain and stiffness in the area.

 

Treatment Options For The Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

 

When someone is suffering, TMJ relief always becomes a priority. But sadly, though with conventional treatments (drugs and surgery) and over the counter solutions (mouthguards and splints) does offer some relief, but it is so short lived that very soon the symptoms of TMJ disorders come back to haunt the person once more. This happens because the root cause of the problem has remained hidden within the body and the treatment just targeted the symptoms.

 

What truly works for TMJ is a unique set of daily exercise that can relax the muscles in the face, shoulder and the head. These TMJ exercises have been proven to deliver results. Holistic remedies are also a great help in this. Holistic remedies treat the body as a whole and identify all the contributing factors and once they are gone, the TMJ symptoms go too.


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