Facts about Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction
Syndrome and Related Headache, Neck Pain, Jaw & Face Pain
TMJ is also known by many other names, including
CMD (craniomandibular dysfunction), MPD (myofascial pain dysfunction)
TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), TMD (temporomandibular
dysfunction). Don’t let all of these terms confuse you
-- they all refer to the same problem. Simply put, TMJ is
a pain syndrome that leads to some or all of the following
- Aching or stiff neck
- Aching or stiff shoulders
- Earaches, ear fullness, ringing in the ears, or pain associated
with the ears
- Jaw pain
- Tooth grinding and jaw clenching
- Popping or clicking in the jaw joint
- Facial pain
- Numbness in the fingers and toes
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Undiagnosable tooth pain
By far the most common symptom of TMJ is headache.
As a result, TMJ is often confused with Migraine. Once a diagnosis
of Migraine is made, patients often receive treatment that
includes the use of strong (and often highly addictive) pain
medications. Yet when their problem isn’t resolved,
they can experience great frustration and may eventually resign
themselves to a lifetime of pain believing that there is no
Causes of TMJ Symptoms
TMJ symptoms are usually caused by spasms or
charley horses, in the muscles of the head, neck, shoulders
and back. The spasms are most commonly triggered by:
- Misalignment (malocclusion) between the way the teeth
fit together and the way the temporomandibular or jaw joint
wants them to fit. Although this discrepancy can be incredibly
small (as little as .001 inch), the body tries to automatically
adjust and compensate for it, which leads to spasms in the
muscles around the jaw joint and those that support the
head and neck.
- Auto accidents, sports injuries or whiplash injuries
While most experts agree that the most frequent
cause of head and neck pain is muscle spasm, there is limited
awareness of the severe pain that these spasms can create.
Since muscle spasms do not show up on X-rays, MRIs, or create
changes in the laboratory tests that are typically ordered,
the diagnosis of migraine is often mistakenly made.
With this lack of understanding, the TMJ patient
is often forced to endure a lifetime of suffering and the
side effects of powerful narcotic pain medications. Fortunately,
Dr. Goldman has developed a proven method to evaluate and
treat the muscle spasms that cause TMJ.
About the temporomandibular joint and related
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint
that connects your lower jaw to your skull. You can feel it
work by placing your fingers just in front of your ears and
opening and closing your mouth. Although this disease is called
TMJ, it typically has little to do with the joint itself,
but occurs in the muscles that control the jaws and those
that support the head and neck. These muscles have the ability
to refer pain to other areas of your head and neck, including
in and behind your eyes.
The balance of your head upon your spinal column
(neck and back) is also controlled by the contraction of muscles.
When these muscles go into spasm, the result is usually head
and or neck pain. Because the muscles of the head and neck
play a major role in balancing the rest of the muscles along
the spine, back pain and other seemingly unrelated symptoms
are often seen as a result of TMJ.