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What is TMJD?

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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the flexible hinge joint that connects the upper temporal bone of the cranium (skull) with the lower jawbone (mandible). There are two TMJs, one on each side of a person’s head immediately in front of the ear. Surrounded by muscles attached to and around these two joints that help control the position and movement of the jaw, these joints work altogether, which enable us to talk, chew, yawn, and simply open and close our mouths.

Either or both TMJs are usually prone to certain disorders, and may also affect facial muscles surrounding them. This is what the medical experts call temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJD) which causes pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

What are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders vary widely, and so are the responses of those who suffer from them. Most medical experts and researchers categorize these disorders into three, namely myofascial pain, internal derangement of the joint, and arthritis.

  • Myofascial pain
    It is a disorder characterized with the existence of active trigger points as well as muscle tension, which are commonly felt in the face, neck and shoulder areas. It involves localized and referred pain.
  • Internal derangement of TMJ
    This involves disc displacement and jaw dislocation.
  • Arthritis
    It is a disease that causes joint inflammation. There are various disorders under arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, traumatic arthritis, and infection arthritis, any of which may occur on the jaw joint. Synovitis may also affect the TMJs, in which the synovial membranes that coats and lubricates the joints become inflamed.

Do I Have TMJ Disorder?

It is important to note that a person suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder may experience one or more of the conditions stated above. TMJDs may also co-exist with a certain health condition, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances, and fibromyalgia.

A person may have a case of TMJD if he or she experiences any of the following:

  • Noise in the jaw joint
  • Painful mouth opening
  • Restriction and locking of the jaw when trying to open the mouth
  • Headaches, facial and neck pain
  • Altered bite
  • Inflammation and pain around the jaw joint
  • Ringing in the ears or decreased hearing
  • Dizziness and vision problems

Disorders that affect TMJs are still relatively unexamined area of medicine. As such, diagnosis and treatment of these conditions can be difficult.

Meanwhile, if you feel pain on either or both sides of your jaw, or you experience any of the symptoms enumerated above, do not delay. Consult with our doctors here in LA Pain Clinic as soon as possible so we can provide you treatment options and diagnosis. We serve clients in both Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

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