Body aches and pains can often show up and then go just as easily. f you have been exhibiting chronic jaw pain, you may have something more serious going on. Unusual jaw pain combined with headaches is a sign of TMJ/TMD, a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint which connects your jaw to your skull. Located under your ears, this joint can be impaired because of trauma or injury, something as simple as inflammation or even arthritis.
Aching Facial Pain Under the Ear or Jaw Tenderness
The number one common complaint of TMJ/TMD we hear about is pain. Pain can center on the masticatory muscles that make the chewing movements of the mandible (lower jaw) but can also arise in the TMJ’s specifically. Jaw pain can be present whether there’s jaw movement or not, can range from mild to intense, be momentary or ongoing, and your symptoms can last anywhere from weeks to months. Many times the pain goes away on its own, but can also sometimes linger for years.
Headaches and Migraines
As the TMJ/TMD place a strain on the jaw and facial muscles, you may be left with painful headaches and migraines. Should you suffer from these headaches while experiencing jaw or facial pain, your temporomandibular joint is probably inflamed, damaged, or misaligned from muscular incoordination, causing jerkiness or disc displacement.
Common sounds that TMJ/TMD mechanisms exhibit include clicking, popping and grinding. For some, a crunching sound called crepitus may be heard and is generally related to arthritis in the TMJ.
Limited Movement in Opening the Mouth
When you visit your dentist, you are typically told to “Open wide!” at some point. If you have TMJ issues, however, that’s easier said than done. Being unable to open the jaw widely without incurring pain is one of the most common TMJ/TMD complaints behind the pain itself. It sometimes happens because of muscle hyperactivity, strain or the articular disc above the condyle being displaced.
TMJ Catching or Locking
When you open and close your mouth, it’s possible to experience catching or locking within the TMJ. This interference of the condylar movement can arise just for a moment or two or seize up persistently.
TMJ/TMD Symptoms That Treatment Can Relieve
- Feeling pain/tenderness around your jaw joint
- Hearing a popping or clicking sound in your jaw
- Feeling like you have a toothache or pain in the mouth, face, jaw, cheek or shoulder
- Earache or cracking sounds in the ears
- Feeling like your ear is full, ringing or making popping sounds in your ears (tinnitus)
- Frequent headaches, including migraines
- Having blurred vision
- Feeling tight, stiff, or sore jaw or neck muscles
- Having muscle spasms in your jaw
- Having problems chewing your food
- Having your jaw lock or dislocating your jaw after yawning (lockjaw)
- Feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo
Time to See a TMJ Specialist
If you have multiple symptoms listed above, it may be time to visit our TMJ specialist. We will review your medical history and provide a physical examination to determine the best solution for your symptoms. There are a variety of effective treatment options that can provide relief ranging from jaw rest, muscle relaxation, implementing a soft diet, taking analgesics, physical therapy, wearing a bite splint, or having surgery. We look forward to helping you find the jaw pain relief you need!