TMJ Symptoms

TMJ can cause a host of painful symptoms

tmj-symptoms-reginaWith a TMJ disorder, your jaw muscles have to work extra hard to do their job as they are compromised by your misaligned bite. When they tire, they recruit the muscles of your face, head, shoulders, and neck. Eventually, these muscles fatigue as well. The result?

All this overuse causes your muscles to become strained and inflamed. Because your body works as a unit, muscle fatigue can cascade down your body, causing aching, sore muscles in your neck, shoulders and back. It can also affect your posture.

To complicate matters further, close to your jaw lie several large nerves that run to your face, head, neck and shoulders, and down to your hands. This nerves are responsible for initiating movement and perceiving sensations. Strained, tight, overtired muscles can put the squeeze on these nerves sending pain signals to your brain.

This is how a jaw disorder can manifest itself as seemingly unrelated pain in your head, eyes, ears, or even arms or hands.

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A summary of symptoms

Migraines and headaches
Many people who suffer with chronic headaches have no idea that TMJ could be the cause. TMJ headaches are a result of built up inflammation due to an untreated jaw problem. As noted above, when inflammation puts pressure on the nerves that run close to the jaw, pain signals can be sent to the area the nerve leads to, in this case, the head.Another reason for TMJ headaches could be a rise in blood pressure.The inflammation in chronically strained jaw muscles can block blood flow. As your body responds by sending more blood to the area, blood pressure increases causing a painful sensation of pressure in the head, called a vascular headache.
Jaw pain
Jaw pain can be a painful problem that makes eating and talking a challenge.  We tend feel pain that is closer to the brain more deeply than pain in other areas of our body, making TMJ jaw pain some of the worst pain you can experience. TMJ jaw pain can be attributed to nerve compression as is the case with TMJ headaches.
Face pain
There are three ways a TMJ disorder can cause face pain.

  1. When your jaw muscles are at war with your jaw bones: If your bite is misaligned, its powerful muscles attempt to resolve the issue by pulling your jawbones into a more balanced position. As they overwork, they become fatigued causing stress, strain and pain.
  2. Cramped muscles: Strained muscles produce lactic acid. As it builds up, your muscles cramp. Called referred pain, the cramping can occur away from the site of the problematic muscle.
  3. Nerve irritation: Cramped muscles can irritate facial nerves. This unpleasant sensation can be perceived as an electric shock, throbbing, nausea, or pain that moves up and down your face. For this reason, TMJ facial pain is often misdiagnosed as migraine headaches.
Ear and eye pain, congestion, and ringing
If you are experiencing pain behind your eyes or beside them, or pain and ringing in your ears, and have been unable to find a diagnosis or treatment via medical avenues, you may have a TMJ disorder. As with TMJ headaches and jaw pain, cramped jaw muscles that compress facial nerves are the culprit.
Neck , shoulder, and back pain
The bones at the very tip of your spine, called the atlas and axis are closely connected with your jaw muscles. They are also important for correct head posture. Tight, contracted jaw muscles caused by a misaligned bite can shift these bones and cause your head to tilt. This puts strain on your neck, shoulder and back muscles as they adjust to your head’s position.
Postural problems
Problems with posture problems can be caused by a misaligned bite. That’s because strained, sore muscles in the jaw caused by TMJ can radiate pain down to your neck, shoulder and back muscles, leading a stiff upper body. This can make it difficult for you to stand as straight as you’d like to, affecting your posture.
Numbness and tingling in arms and hands
Muscle spasms caused by TMJ can pinch the nerves that go down your arms,  causing the tingling or numbness. In some cases muscles may only spasm periodically, so these feelings can come and go with varying strength or intensity.

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What’s causing your TMJ symptoms?

While a disorder in your jaw is the ultimate culprit, the cause of  disorder needs to be determined before effective treatment can be found. Luckily, neuromuscular dentistry has a host of high-tech diagnostic tools to help get to the root of the problem and find a treatment that can help resolve your symptoms.

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