If you experience a clicking or popping sound while chewing or opening your mouth, then you may be experiencing symptoms of temporomandibular (TMD), otherwise known as TMJ.
What is TMJ?
To understand TMJ disorder it is important to understand the anatomy of your jaw. Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. The temporomandibular joints are among the most complex joints in the body. These joints allow your jaw to move both up and down and side to side.
In order for your jaw to work properly, all of the parts need to be working in harmony. Any problems associated with your jaw or the muscles and nerves around it are known as TMJ.
What Causes TMJ?
TMJ disorder can be caused by trauma or injury to the jaw joints and surrounding tissues. Teeth grinding or clenching is also associated with TMJ disorder. Other causes include:
- Disk problems
- Genetics (more common in females)
What are the Symptoms?
TMJ dysfunction is most common in people 20 to 40 years of age and is found more in women than in men. The most common symptom of TMJ is chronic facial pain in areas such as the ears, jaw, and mouth. Many people with TMJ experience jaw locking and have a hard time opening their mouths wide.
TMJ often causes a clicking or grating sound when opening your mouth. However, if pain or jaw movement limitations are not associated with these sounds, then TMJ is probably not the cause.
Other symptoms may include:
- Tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
TMJ is often diagnosed by a doctor or a dentist, so if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is recommended to consult a professional.
Physical therapy can help relieve your jaw pain and discomfort. Physical therapists use different methods to strengthen, retrain, and work with these muscles to properly function. Relaxation techniques can also be used to reduce tension.
If you’re looking for treatment options you can do at home, then consider taking some anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or ibuprofen. This will help reduce pain and swelling. You can also try eating soft foods to reduce the strain on your jaw.
Synergy specializes in TMJ treatment, so if you think you may be experiencing any symptoms, schedule an appointment with us today.