Jaw pain is the most common TMJ symptom. However, there are many different types of jaw pain associated with TMJ, and the types of jaw pain you experience may indicate the type of TMJ you have and what are the best treatments for you. The pain could be in the actual temporomandibular joints, which are located at the meeting of the lower jaw and the temporal bone of the skull. If pain isn’t telling you exactly where this joint is, you can locate it by moving your jaw and placing your fingers in front of your ears to feel the motion.
Causes of Pain at the Jaw Joint
If you have pain actually in the jaw joint, it is most likely caused by inflammation of the ligaments holding the jaw joint together. Inflammation can be caused by strain due to overexertion, displacement, or trauma. Overexertion may be caused by overusing your jaw joint, such as doing things your jaw wasn’t meant for, such as cracking nuts or breaking ice. Or it may be due to clenching associated with stress, which may happen during the daytime or at night. Other people have clenching without stress.
Inflammation may also be caused by displacement of the jaw joint, which may be caused by malocclusion or following trauma.
Trauma to the jaw joint can displace the joint or it can directly lead to inflammation of the ligaments holding the jaw joint together.
Jaw pain can also be caused by tearing of the ligament that secures the cushioning disc in the jaw joint. When this occurs the jaw joint can move more freely, which can result in popping or clicking as the displaced disc may slip in and out of place. This may or may not cause additional pain.
Pain at the joint can also be caused by arthritis, which may be due to wear or may be spontaneous. Arthritis and other causes of pain can lead to progressive damage to the jaw joint, which may worsen pain, worsen function, and, ultimately, limit treatment options.
Causes of Jaw Pain outside the Joint
Not all jaw pain associated with TMJ occurs at the joint. In addition to pain in the jaw joint, there are many potential sources of jaw pain:
- Muscle pain or soreness, most often a dull aching soreness
- Pinched nerves, which can lead to a sharp, electric pains
- Sore teeth or achy bones due to excessive stress on teeth and bones
All of these types of pain may fit under the label of jaw pain, and all of them are symptoms of TMJ, even though the source of pain is not the jaw joint itself.
Although there are many types of jaw pain associated with the condition, TMJ treatment can provide relief from them all. Please contact us to learn how you can be TMDFree.