The Symptoms and Underlying Causes of TMJ Issues


Causes of TMJ issues include any health disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This jaw joint can both open and close as a hinge joint but also move side to side as a slide joint. It makes the TMJ very complex and leaves it open to a number of problems. We are going to take a closer look at the symptoms and underlying causes of TMJ issues. This may help you to understand what is at the root of your jaw pain and can help you to find natural relief. 

Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction 

Are you really experiencing TMJ dysfunction, or is it just temporary soreness due to overuse? Here are a few of the common symptoms of TMJ issues that can help you to know if you may be dealing with a chronic situation. These symptoms are intended for informational purposes and not to diagnose any particular condition.

Pain Symptoms of TMJ Disorders 

Pain is the symptom that everyone thinks of in association with TMJ dysfunction. However, the pain can manifest itself in several different ways depending on the underlying issue. Some common discomforts associated with the jaw include:

  • Jaw pain – The jaw may hurt during use or just in general. 
  • Neck pain – Pain often radiates toward the neck or may start in the neck and radiate. 
  • Earaches – The proximity of the atlas (top bone in the neck), TMJ, and ears may result in pain that radiates into the ears. The pain may also be due to infection.  
  • Face pain – The trigeminal nerve is also close to the TMJ. Therefore, pain may occur throughout the face along any of the branches of this nerve, depending on where the irritation is taking place. 
  • Headaches – Headaches may be frequent for patients with TMJ issues. 

Additional Symptoms 

In addition to the pain, you may experience other symptoms in the ear. Some of these may include frequent cases of infection or tinnitus (ringing in the ear). Pain may also be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the face, neck, etc. This is the case when the nerves are affected. 

Besides pain in the jaw, you may also experience a limited range of motion with the jaw locking in an open or closed position. You may also hear noise when using the jaw. It can sound like a popping, clicking, or grinding noise.

The Underlying Causes of TMJ Issues  

While there is no single underlying cause of TMJ issues, there are some things that are more common than others. Here are a few things that contribute to jaw pain:

  • Injuries – Any head or neck injury can shift the jaw out of place. This can lead to TMJ issues.
  • Medical procedures – If you have recently had a dental procedure that caused your mouth to be open for an extended period of time or if you have undergone surgery that required the use of a  breathing tube, the jaw pain may be due to having the jaw in an unnatural position for so long. 
  • Posture – The jaw is near the upper cervical spine. Therefore, your posture may affect more than just your neck. It is vital to use proper posture, especially if you have a history of TMJ pain. 
  • Stress – Not only can stress affect the neck and shoulders, but this tension can also lead to headaches and jaw pain. Additional, stress can lead to the habit of clenching the jaw or to bruxism (grinding of the teeth). Either way, this strains the jaw. 
  • Arthritis – If the cartilage that supports the jaw is worn down, long-term pain can occur. If arthritis is in the early stages, it is essential to correct anything that may be creating undue wear and tear on the jaw joint. 
  • Inflammation – In many cases of TMJ, inflammation is at work. This could be due to injuries, autoimmune conditions, and the like. 

Finding Natural Relief from TMJ Pain at Home 

One of the ways to care for TMJ problems naturally is to provide some self-care at home. A few things you can try to get a little relief include:

  • Resting the jaw – To reduce strain on the jaw, there are a few ways to relax it. You can try eating softer foods, avoid uses that strain the jaw (like yelling or singing), and gently massage the joint.
  • Stress management – To help with pain due to stress, you can take up a relaxing hobby, talk out your anxieties with a confidant, or finally take that vacation you have been planning to go on “someday.”
  • Ice – Ice is the natural enemy of inflammation, so if your jaw pain stems from swelling, this can be of benefit. Remember to avoid direct contact between the ice and your skin. For example, you can wrap an icepack in a clean dish towel. Use ice for about 20 minutes at a time. 

Getting Natural Help for Your TMJ Pain 

Another way to get help for your jaw pain is through upper cervical specific chiropractic care. This is a safe and gentle way to correct tiny misalignments of the C1 and C2 that could be the underlying cause of TMJ issues. So if you are dealing with jaw pain, especially if you also have neck pain or a history of neck injuries, contact a practitioner in your area today. You may have just found the natural way to get relief from your TMJ disorder symptoms.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.