Plenty of people suffer from undiagnosed disorders such as TMJ.
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic head, neck and jaw pain as well as severe, recurring headaches. In many cases, this pain is due to a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, connects your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement of your lower jaw.
What is TMJ?TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint in front of your ear. It is the articulation, or joint, between the temporal bone of your skull and your mandible or lower jaw. Your lower jaw below is separated by a cartilage disk from your temporal bone in the skull above. This joint allows you to open, close, protrude, retract and move your lower jaw side-to-side. The incidence of TMD is highest in females between the ages of 20 and 44 Millions of Americans suffer from undiagnosed TMD. Epidemiologic studies report the incidence is highest (37-63% depending on the study) in women between the ages of 20 and 44. The incidence is 7:1 to 17:1 times higher in females than in males. Joint laxity due to estrogen may be the cause. What are the common symptoms of a TMJ disorder? Often, the first sign of TMD is a joint vibration, clicking, or popping sound originating in your jaw joint(s), especially when you open widely. Irreparable damage to this joint may result in permanent disability. The symptoms of TMD include:
- Headaches or earaches
- Ringing in the ear
- Pain in the muscles of the head and neck
- Reduction in the velocity of opening the mouth
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Relax your facial muscles – Keep your lips lightly together with your teeth slightly apart.
- Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth.
- Avoid gum chewing.
- Avoid hard foods.
- Avoid opening your mouth wide – Limit the range of your jaw movements.