Learn About TMJ Disorders For Successful Management

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called “TMJ,” are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. The conditions appear to be more common in women than men.

TMJ General Causes and Symptoms

Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some TMJ disorders but in most cases, the exact cause of the condition is not clear. It is suspected that delays in diagnosing jaw joint damage prevent the condition from accurately being tied to a specific incident.

A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include:

  • jaw muscle stiffness
  • limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • a change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

Common Non-surgical TMJ Treatment

For many people, discomfort from TMJ disorders will eventually go away with little or no treatment, similar to soreness or pain in other joints. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term problems.

Simple steps that may help ease symptoms temporarily include:

  • eating soft foods
  • applying ice packs
  • avoiding extreme jaw movements like wide yawning and gum chewing

For some sufferers, short term use of over-the-counter or prescription pain medicines and learning techniques to reduce stress may provide relief.