The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located between the upper and lower jaw, in front of the ear. Thanks to the TMJ, you are able to open your mouth, chew, talk, and yawn. If you are experiencing pain in or near this joint, you may suffer from a TMJ disorder.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
Doctors aren’t certain what exactly causes TMJ disorders, but most physicians agree that this condition may result from:
- Fatigued muscles that operate the jaw.
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth.
- Erosion or misalignment of the cushioning disc between the upper and lower parts of the jaw.
- Damage to the cartilage from arthritis.
- Joint damage from an accident or impact.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include headache, facial pain, and ear pain. However, symptoms of TMJ disorder may also include:
- Tenderness or pain in the face, jaw joint, neck, or around the ear when you eat, speak, or open your mouth wide.
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you open your mouth or chew food. These sounds may be accompanied by pain.
- Limited range of motion in the jaw joint.
- Misalignment of the upper and lower teeth.
- Hearing problems.
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears).
- Upper shoulder pain.
- Trouble chewing.
Risk Factors for TMJ Disorders
The majority of TMJ cases are reported among women between the ages of 20-50. Patients with jaw deformities are also at an increased risk for TMJ disorders. Also, patients who suffer from fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop a TMJ disorder.
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