One of the reasons why TMJ can be so hard to treat is that it can cause numerous symptoms, many of which overlap with other conditions. Many people have multiple TMJ symptoms and don’t know that they’re all linked to a single condition.
Some of the symptoms of TMJ include:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw sounds (such as popping, clicking, or grinding)
- Irregular jaw motion
- Limited jaw opening
- Jaw stuck open or closed
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Ringing in the ears
- Earache or a stuffy feeling in the ears
- Face and neck pain
- Shoulder or back pain
- Excessive tooth wear, chipping, or cracking
- Tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers
Ofentimes these symptoms become diagnosed as a different condition. In this case, the percribed treatments likely won’t work if TMJ is the underlying problem. If you believe you were misdiagnosed, we can evaluate your jaw to determine if TMJ is the cause.
What Is TMJ?
As we mentioned above, TMJ is an umbrella term that is used to describe many closely related conditions that have overlapping symptoms. Currently, there are three types of TMJ that have been well-defined. These are:
- Myofascial pain disorder (MPD)
- Disc displacement (DD)
- Degenerative joint disease (DJD)
MPD is primarily a muscle condition, where tense, strained muscles cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw. MPD is the most common type of TMJ, and the most likely to cause far-reaching symptoms such as headaches, ringing in the ears, and facial pain. For example, one recent study found that 94% of patients with tinnitus had MPD. DD is when the cushioning disc in the jaw joint becomes displaced. This is the most common cause of joint popping or clicking, as well as irregular jaw motion and locked jaw. DJD is when the joint is attacked by some form of arthritis.
It’s possible to have one, two, or all three types of TMJ.
How Does TMJ Cause So Many Symptoms?
Many people are surprised at the range of symptoms caused by TMJ. TMJ partly causes so many symptoms because it is actually multiple conditions, not one. However, the condition can also cause different types of symptoms because of its location.
The temporomandibular joints are located at the base of the skull, likely the most important crossroads in the body. Vital nerves, blood vessels, and airways crisscross with muscle and bone structures that support the head and neck. Disruptions here usually affect more than one system, and the effects of the disruption radiate outward.
Treatment Can Resolve Many Symptoms
Of course, there is an advantage to so many symptoms being linked together with one condition. Treatment of that condition can give relief from many–possibly all–of the related symptoms.
Symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, vertigo, and tinnitus can all be resolved together with one simple treatment that is usually drug-free. There’s no surgery required.
To learn how TMJ treatment can help resolve your symptoms in Fort Atkinson or surrounding areas of Jefferson County, please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment with Dr. Stafford at Bite Align.