Whenever you eat, chew, speak, or just open and move your mouth, there’s a pair of joints that make everything function smoothly: the temporomandibular joint. This is located on either side of your jaw, just beneath your ear, and works in a way that lets your mouth move frequently.
Sometimes, though, something goes “click”–quite literally, at that–which makes your jaws screech to a grinding halt. TMJ pain occurs seemingly without warning, making you experience chronic pain in your face, your back, your head, and your shoulder. This is why treatment for TMJ pain is an absolute must because it can affect various portions of your body, plus it also makes it extremely difficult for you to speak or eat normally.
If you’re feeling some sort of pain in your jaws and neck or find that you’re having headaches a lot more often than usual, you can figure out if you’re suffering from TMJ pain if you have the following symptoms.
- a clicking, popping or grinding sound whenever you open your mouth wide
- persistent facial pain, jaw pain, headaches or migraines, neck, shoulder, and back pain
- ringing in the ears
These are not the only TMJ pain symptoms you will experience, but these are enough for you to get yourself checked if you have TMJ disorder.
A direct blow to the jaw joint area is sufficient enough to cause TMJ disorder, but not all TMJ pain sufferers have experienced this. Teeth grinding or clenching is one particular activity that often results in TMJ disorder, particularly if you have a habit of constantly biting things, such as pencils or your fingernails. The degenerative joint disease could also be a culprit, as well as misaligned teeth, which could be caused by incorrect dental setting.
Treatment for TMJ pain comes in many forms. One easy way to reduce your discomfort is to take painkillers, but that is not a permanent solution, only one that helps you cope as you undergo other TMJ pain relief options. You can try jaw exercises at home, which consists of opening and closing the jaw and moving it back and forth, applying a warm compress to the affected area the whole time. Keeping your jaw rested is also key; eat soft foods and steer clear of hard candy. A physical therapist can also help you work to ease the body pain caused by TMJ disorder, and counseling could help you undo the stress that makes you clench your teeth and takes a toll on your jaw.
Your doctor can also fit you with a mouth guard you can use when you sleep to prevent you from grinding your teeth. In extreme cases, you may need to undergo surgery to realign your jaw joints.