Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction is commonly referred to as TMJD or TMJ dysfunction which leads to jaw pain. Individuals with jaw pain or headaches will often have associated dysfunction and pain of the neck. Research reveals that 50% of neck cases will have TMJ dysfunction as the primary underlying problem, leading to frustration if untreated. Strong and powerful muscles help stabilize and mobilize the jaw which include: temporalis, lateral pterygoids, medial pterygoids, masseters, and buccinators. These muscle may seem insignificant to the entire body due to their small size. However, these muscles are considered to be neurologically integrated with proprioceptive, visual, balance, and postural control of the entire body.
Over-activation of these muscles turn off the deepest and most significant neck muscles for stabilization. A common postural finding called anterior head carriage occurs due to the lack of the deep neck muscles creating pain to the neck and TMJ. Postural and orthostatic stability of the head over the neck has been hallmarked in the literature as an important consideration in the diagnosis of cervical/TMJ dysfunction and pain.
What are the Symptoms of Jaw Pain?
Jaw pain and dysfunction can be an extremely painful experience. Jaw pain may often present as a non-painful, yet annoying, popping or clicking sensation. Two simple test to evaluate if your jaw, neck, or upper body pain has TMJD as a potential primary cause include motion analysis and a 3 knuckle test. First look in the mirror for the assessment. Open your jaw and see if 3 knuckles can fit comfortably between your teeth. If any popping, clicking, or pain is present there is a potential the TMJ is causing your face, neck, or head pains. While looking in the mirror open your jaw slow and identify if it moves in one direction more than the other before stopping. If the jaw translates more in one direction while opening there is compensating tight musculature around the TMJ that may be causing your face, neck, and head pain as well. These are two simple tests anyone can perform themselves to identify if treatment and care are needed.
Consult a Doctor if the Following Occur:
Popping or clicking
Ear aches or infection
What are Common Treatments for Jaw Pain?
Common treatments for jaw pain include soft tissue treatment for the surrounding musculature. When the tissues surrounding the TMJ become tight and fibrotic adhesions build up restricting proper motion. The lack of proper motion within the joint produces the popping and clicking often experienced with TMJ patients.
New Patients are Always Welcome!
The doctors at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic in Overland Park & Shawnee, Kansas and Lees Summit, Missouri are here to help lessen and relieve your jaw pain. Do not hesitate, contact us today for leading evidence-based assessments and treatments for your musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.