Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD or TMD) is a condition that affects the muscles & joints of the jaw and the base of the head. TMJD is also sometimes referred to as myofascial pain disorder, though this is not as specific a definition.

Symptoms of TMJD can include:

  • clicking, hoping or grating noises
  • muscle pain around jaw
  • ear pain that can spread to the temple & cheek
  • stiffness and difficulty opening the mouth
  • headache and migraine
  • neckache
  • backache
  • jaw sublax &/or dislocation

There are a number of possible causes of TMJD, including:

  • clenching or grinding the jaw, often in your sleep
  • stress (this is one of my biggest ‘triggers’)
  • injury
  • and uneven bite
  • other specific conditions (in my case EDS-Hypermobility Type)

Physiotherapy can be beneficial, though for me it proved detrimental as my EDS was not diagnosed at the time so was not taken into consideration. Lifestyle changes can be beneficial, such as avoiding chewy foods, relaxation techniques and avoiding resting the chin on the hands. Moth guards may be helpful to avoid grinding or clinching teeth when sleeping. In extreme cases surgery may be helpful.

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Useful resources –

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), Health A-Z. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/temporomandibular-joint-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx. NHS. Page last reviewed August 2014.

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