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TMJ Syndrome

Pain in your jaw is never pleasant, and if the pain is accompanied by grinding or clicking sounds and sensations, those can be especially distressing. These symptoms are commonly found in Temporomandibular Joint syndrome, or TMJ. This syndrome does not necessarily get worse and it can get a lot better with head pain treatment, but it is not something you should ignore.

Causes

The temporomandibular joint is the point at which your jaw connects to your skull, near the ears. When the joint works normally, you can open and close your jaw without a problem. But if there’s trauma to your jaw, if you develop arthritis in your jaw, or if you have some other condition affecting the joint, you can develop TMJ. Frustratingly, a number of cases simply have no identifiable cause other than something happening to make the joint become misaligned or less easy to move.

Symptoms

The symptoms of TMJ can vary to some extent, but they all center around that particular joint. A very common symptom is a locking feeling as you open or close your jaw. This can be partial — as you move your jaw, you feel like you have to manipulate it to fully open your mouth — or it can be almost complete, where you’re unable to open your mouth past a certain point because it feels like the joint is locked. Feeling rough, grinding sensations in the joint as you open your mouth is also very common.

Additional symptoms include painful muscles around the jaw, often radiating to the ear or to the rest of your face. You might have difficulty or pain when chewing, too.

Treatments

Treatment for TMJ is somewhat dependent on the cause. If arthritis has affected your jaw, for example, you’ll likely have to try arthritis-specific medications. You could also benefit from additional alternative therapies like acupuncture, as well as nutritional counseling to ensure you’re eating a beneficial diet.

If the issue is stress that’s been leading you to clench your jaw in your sleep, creating enough trauma to bring on TMJ symptoms, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, and psychotherapy could be of benefit. Remember, it’s not just the symptoms you want to treat, but the underlying cause of the symptoms.

While you’re undergoing treatment, learning to use coping strategies can help lessen the symptoms. Care when chewing is essential, and sometimes massaging the jaw muscles can help, though you should speak with a physical therapist first — you want to be sure you’re not going to traumatize the area further by physically manipulating the muscles.

Rarely, surgery becomes necessary to treat severe cases of TMJ. This should be a last-chance type of treatment as surgically changing the jaw joint can change how your face looks.

Contact Allied Pain & Spine Institute today to schedule an appointment and get the treatment you need to relieve your TMJ symptoms.

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