How Common Is Vertigo in TMJ?

Vertigo is one of many common ear symptoms related to TMJ. Studies show that perhaps 80% of people with TMJ experience one or more ear-related symptoms. Vertigo is not the most common ear-related symptom, but it occurs in 40 to 50% of TMJ sufferers. 

People are slightly more likely to experience vertigo if they have myofascial pain disorder (MPD) than other types of TMJ. 

How Might TMJ Cause Vertigo?

Vertigo occurs when the body’s natural balance system is disrupted. The balance system uses a combination of three major tools to determine the body’s position and motion. First, it uses the visual system. The brain can see how we’re moving and uses this to help balance itself. In addition, the body can sense how its different components are positioned relative to one another. It knows, for example, if you are looking sideways as you walk forward. Finally, the body relies on the vestibular system to measure the position and motion of the body. The vestibular system includes several round tunnels that are partially filled with fluid. The body uses tiny hairs in the tunnels to sense the position of the fluid, which, like the bubble in a level, measures the tilt and motion of the body. 

Vertigo or dizziness occurs when these systems don’t agree with one another. Some people might experience vertigo when they look over a precipitous edge. The brain has difficulty reconciling the view over the cliff with the sensation that they are not falling. You might also get dizzy if you spin around a lot, which causes the fluid in the ear to move according to its momentum, even when you stop spinning. The still-moving fluid conflicts with the evidence of your eyes, which makes you feel dizzy. 

We’re not sure how TMJ disrupts the vestibular system. It could be that sensations from the stressed muscles in the jaw lead to changes in the way the brain receives or interprets signals from the ear. It’s also possible that a disordered jaw joint could put pressure on the nerves carrying signals from the ear. Disruption in these signals could mimic sensations of motion. 

Is Your Vertigo Linked to TMJ?

But how do you know if your vertigo might be linked to TMJ? Consider these three questions?

  1. Do I have other TMJ symptoms?
  2. Does my vertigo occur after jaw stress or TMJ flare-ups?
  3. Have I eliminated other potential causes of vertigo?

TMJ has many symptoms, and few people experience the same blend of symptoms. If you have three or more other TMJ symptoms, you should be tested for TMJ

You might also suspect TMJ if your vertigo tends to occur after you’ve exercised your jaw excessively. This might be a lot of talking, eating hard or chewy food, or clenching and grinding your teeth. The latter is often a cause of morning vertigo–many people have night bruxism and wake not knowing they’ve been grinding their teeth all night. 

It’s also important to consider whether you might have other conditions that might account for your vertigo, such as an ear infection. But remember, some conditions are commonly misdiagnosed in TMJ cases, such as Meniere’s disease. 

TMJ Treatment Can Help with Vertigo in Fort Atkinson

If you have vertigo that you think might be linked to TMJ, we can help. Dr. Stafford will first work to get you the most accurate diagnosis possible, then recommend the right treatment for you. Please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment at Bite Align, serving all of Jefferson County from Fort Atkinson.