Causes of TMJ pain

TMJ Pain

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are two tiny joints located on your jaw. There is one on each side of your face just below the ear. Essentially, the TMJ connects your jaw to the rest of your skull.

It also functions to move your jaw for actions like chewing food, talking, smiling and laughing. When pain affects one or both of the TMJs, it can be challenging to perform any of these actions. This is known as TMJ dysfunction or TMJ disorder.

What causes TMJ pain?

TMJ dysfunction is often temporary. The pain is triggered by something like strain to the muscles and soft tissue in the face. This pain can usually go away after a few days of rest and home treatments. However, some conditions that affect the TMJ may require professional treatment. These can include:

  • Arthritis — Arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes damage to the cartilage in your joints. Since there is cartilage in the TMJ, it’s vulnerable to many forms of arthritis.

  • Traumatic injury — Blunt force to the face or jaw can harm the TMJ. Also, any impact that causes you to clench your jaw can strain the jaw joint.

  • Poor posture — Sitting or standing with your head hunched over strains your neck and shoulders. You may be surprised to learn that it also affects your jaw since tension spreads easily across the muscles in your neck and face.

  • Grinding your teeth — If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw in your sleep, you can expect TMJ pain to eventually develop.

How do you know when you have a TMJ disorder?

Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the jaw
  • Pain is more severe near the ear
  • Difficulty chewing, talking and moving your mouth
  • General achiness across the face

TMJ dysfunction is often temporary, so you may be able to get by with a bit of rest if the pain is minor. However, if the pain is severe or lasts for more than a few days, you may need to see a healthcare professional. This is especially important if you entirely lose the ability to open or close your mouth.

Visit Holland Physical Therapy for TMJ jaw pain treatment

Many people with TMJ pain visit physical therapists for treatment. Physical therapists specialize in methods that reduce pain and restore range of motion in the muscles, joints and soft tissue in the body. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.