TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain is a common problem, and while some people recover without any medical intervention, others require assistance to feel better. What are some of the most common TMJ disorder symptoms? Our list will help you to identify when it is time to get help for your jaw pain. Then we will discuss some coping mechanisms you may want to try.
#1 Jaw Pain
This is the symptom that identifies a TMJ problem for most patients. The pain may radiate up toward the ears or down toward the neck. The pain may be constant, or it may come and go. The pain may grow worse when you use your jaw, such as when chewing, singing, yawning, or other activities that require you to open your mouth completely.
#2 Limited Range of Motion
The jaw can move both side to side as well as opening and closing. This unique feature of the joint may be a part of what makes it such a common place for pain and other problems. When there is something wrong with the TMJ, you may find that your range of motion is limited. This is either because there is too much pain to move the joint or because it freezes in place, which may indicate that the jaw itself is misaligned.
#3 Noise When Moving the Jaw
There are a few things to consider regarding this particular TMJ disorder symptom. First of all, experiencing noise in the jaw doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with the joint. Second, if you do have sound when you move your jaw, but it goes away, that doesn’t absolutely mean you no longer have a problem.
What types of sounds are associated with TMJ disorders? You may hear a clicking, popping, or grinding noise when opening or closing the jaw.
#4 Facial Inflammation and/or Pain
A misaligned jaw can lead to inflammation in the face, and it can also cause pain in other parts of the face beside the region surrounding the jaw. This is because the TMJ is in proximity to the trigeminal nerve, which is the nerve that provides feeling for the face. This nerve branches above the eyes, below the eyes, and along the jawline, so you may experience pain in a wide variety of locations.
Trigeminal pain may be triggered by simple everyday occurrences. Things such as smiling or brushing your teeth may cause sudden and acute pain at a location along the nerve. The place where the nerve is being irritated or compressed will determine where the pain occurs and what triggers an attack.
#5 Neck Pain
Not only will TMJ pain often radiate toward the neck, but it is also widespread to experience neck pain in general. The top bones in the neck are actually really close to both the jaw joint and the ears, so it makes sense that all of these parts of the body frequently experience issues at the same time.
#6 Ear Symptoms
A number of ear symptoms are associated with TMJ disorders. For example, you may also experience tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. You may also become more prone to ear infections or even experience hearing problems.
A common associated condition when it comes to TMJ disorders is headaches. Headaches are also commonly associated with neck pain, so it makes sense that this ends up being one of the most common TMJ disorder symptoms.
Other TMJ Disorder Symptoms You May Experience
Besides the seven symptoms on our list, other signals exist that indicate a problem in the jaw joint. For example, you may find it challenging to eat a large meal or hard foods because your jaw gets tired quickly. You could experience changes in your bite that cause your teeth to hit each other at an unusual angle. At times, your jaw may get stuck in certain positions, either open or closed. How can you take care of yourself when you experience these and other TMJ disorder symptoms?
Self-Care for TMJ Symptoms
Jaw pain may just be the result of overuse. In these cases, you probably don’t need any medical intervention, just a little self-care at home. What are some of the things you can try?
- Ice your jaw – This is an excellent way to reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is often the source of pain, you may even help the pain as the swelling goes down. Remember not to ice your jaw for more than 20 minutes at a time, and always wrap the ice in a towel, so there is no direct skin contact.
- Rest your jaw – Avoid eating large meals or foods that require you to open your mouth entirely. Try softer foods for a day or two and see if the pain subsides on its own. Limit activities that require opening the jaw wide such as loud singing, yelling, or yawning.
Natural Help for TMJ Pain
One other thing that you may want to try in order to support your efforts at home is seeing an upper cervical chiropractor. Making sure that the top two bones in the neck are in proper alignment is a good way to keep the neck ears, and jaw all in proper alignment. For some patients, this has helped with TMJ disorder symptoms. To learn more, contact a practitioner in your area.
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