The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is also known as your jaw joint. Because your jaw muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to uncomfortable results such as stiffness, headaches, pain, bite problems, clicking sounds or lock jaw.
TMJ symptoms may occur on one or both sides of the face, head or jaw, or develop after an injury. Most discomfort is caused from overuse of the muscles, specifically clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism). This activity tires the jaw muscles and lead to discomfort, such as headaches or neck pain. Additionally, abnormal function can lead to worn or sensitive teeth, traumatized soft tissues, muscle soreness, jaw discomfort when eating, and temporal (side) headaches.
Symptoms from TMJ problems can include :
- An earache without an infection
- Jaw pain or soreness more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
- Jaw pain when you chew, bite or yawn
- Clicking when opening and closing your mouth
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- Locked or stiff jaw when you talk, yawn or eat
- Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
Treatment for TMJ pain can include acupuncture, heat and ice, ultrasound, joint mobilization, strengthening exercises, postural exercises, eating soft foods and avoiding chewing gum, avoiding grinding with use of a mouth appliance and using anti-inflammatory medications. Electrical stimulation and stress management techniques can also help.