Common Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ can exhibit itself through many different symptoms. People with the condition often experience a combination of jaw symptoms, ear symptoms, head and neck symptoms, and even symptoms elsewhere in the body.
Jaw symptoms that commonly manifest in TMJ include:
- Irregular jaw motion
- Jaw sounds: popping, clicking, or grinding
- Limited jaw opening
- Locked jaw
- Bite that feels off
- Excessive tooth wear
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Jaw clenching and grinding (bruxism)
In addition, most people with TMJ experience some type of ear symptoms, which include the following:
Head and neck symptoms are also common, including:
- Headaches (including tension and migraine headaches)
- Face pain
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness and limited motion
The symptoms from TMJ can affect the entire body and may include:
- Back pain
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers
- Poor posture
Because TMJ is so diverse, no one experiences all the related symptoms. In fact, we rarely have people come into our office reporting the exact same symptoms as another patient. If you experience three or more symptoms, you should be tested for TMJ, especially if you have symptoms from more than one group above.
Because it is so commonly misdiagnosed, we work hard to ensure the most accurate diagnosis possible for all our patients. Dr. Stafford is continuously studying TMJ and uses what she considers to be the best TMJ diagnosis method available. Proper TMJ diagnosis depends on a detailed medical history, a thorough physical exam, and objective data about your jaw. Using this combined approach, we can help more people understand the condition of their jaw.
Detailed Medical History
Before your first appointment, we will ask you to fill out a detailed medical history. This will help us understand your experience with TMJ and related conditions. We will ask you about your symptoms, as well as previous diagnoses of conditions that might be related or might be misdiagnosed.
After reading and talking to you about your medical history, Dr. Stafford will conduct a thorough physical exam. She will look at your face, jaw, and teeth. She will then ask you to move in certain ways. She will listen to your jaw and other joints. She may palpate (feel) your muscles and joints. She may put pressure on specific places. During the exam, you are encouraged to talk about what you’re feeling and if anything hurts or feels strange.
Imagery and Data
While the medical history and physical exam will illuminate many aspects of the condition of your jaw, there are many things that Dr. Stafford can’t see, hear, or feel. To supplement her exam, she might use tools and imaging to get more data. To image the jaw joint, she might recommend a CT scan (like a 3D x-ray) or MRI. She might also use the K7 suite to analyze the jaw in several ways. The K7 includes a digital jaw tracker, which precisely shows your jaw movements in 3D so she can see any irregular motion. It also has electromyography, which measures the tension in your jaw muscles. Finally, it also includes electrosonography, an amplified digital measurement of your jaw sounds.
After looking at all the information she compiled, Dr. Stafford will give you a diagnosis as well as treatment recommendations. This might be a referral to a different professional, home treatment, or treatment at our office.
You can get relief from your symptoms. The first step is an accurate diagnosis. Please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment at Bite Align, offering quality care to Jefferson County from Fort Atkinson, WI.