TMJ Disorder Can Be a Real Pain, Literally!

by on December 10th, 2010
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The Temporomandibular joint is located where the lower jaw meets the skull. For those who suffer from TMJ disorder, this joint can be the source of great pain. I myself suffer from TMJ disorder after suffering a hard blow to the face caused by an accidental kick from a child’s boot several years ago.

After this incident, I began experiencing the usual symptoms of TMJ disorder. These include pain or tenderness in the jaw, facial pain, headaches, discomfort while chewing, aching in the ear(s) , and clicking and locking of the jaw. I assumed these problems were a result of the blow, but I also thought they would disappear over time.It never occurred to me that I might have TMJ disorder.

Most dentists are able to diagnose TMJ disorder, but my diagnosis actually came from an ear, nose, and throat specialist. I was referred to said doctor after experiencing a severe earache, which I assumed was an ear infection since I had been swimming a lot in the weeks preceding the earache. The doctor told me I had no signs of anything wrong with my ear, no infection at all, then asked me if I had ever suffered a blow to my jaw. I informed him that I had indeed received a harsh blow to the jaw a few years before. He then told me I had TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder can result from an injury to the jaw, in people with a deformity of the jaw, or in those who suffer from certain diseases and conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and others. TMJ problems are most common in women between the ages of 30-50 years old. Pain begins when a small, shock absorbing disk that separates the cartilage covered parts of bone begins to erode, or when the joint itself or the cartilage becomes damaged.

Grinding or clenching your teeth at night can also contribute to the development of TMJ disorder, and can greatly aggravate this condition. Many times a dentist will recommend wearing a night guard to prevent this grinding/clenching. I myself am a notorious teeth clencher. My dentist says my teeth are very telling, that they say I am under a lot of stress and that I take that stress to bed with me at night. This is when the night guard comes in handy.

People who suffer from TMJ disorder can take medication to relieve the pain. Discuss therapies with your doctor if you are experiencing a lot of TMJ pain. Those with TMJ disorder should also avoid simple activities such as chewing gum or crunching ice, as these activities can really lead to painful days ahead.

The temporomandibular joint is an important joint, responsible for carrying out the everyday tasks of chewing, speaking, and yawning. Therefore, it is important to treat this condition and keep the pain under control, or try to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Be sure to inform anyone doing any dental work on you that you suffer from TMJ disorder, as they will need to take precautions to avoid aggravating your condition. All factual information in this article can be found at the Mayo Clinic website (MayoClinic.com) under TMJ Disorder. They have several pages of information regarding this painful condition.


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