Temporomandibular joint disorders are issues related to jaw joint where the patient is unable to move the jaw or movement is reduced to a significant level due to pain and the condition itself. There are numerous causes for this condition but most of the cases resolve itself with simple or no further treatments.
Basics of Temporomandibular joint disorders
Temporomandibular joint disorders affect the jaw joint which is located in front of the ear. This joint joins the jaw bone to the skull close to the temple. The most common term used is Temporomandibular joint disorders but there are other medically known terms for this condition such as TMJ pain, TMJ dysfunction and so on. During this condition, the flexibility and movement of the jaw are lost. Muscles that are attached to the skull and jawbone lose their normal functionality as a result. The smooth material called cartilage that is present inside the jaw joint loses its lubrication as well. The pain becomes inevitable in front of the ear as well as starts spreading around the cheek area and temple. Jaw movement is significantly reduced; a general tight feeling or sensation is felt around the mouth and in some cases, the jaw becomes locked making it difficult to open or close the mouth.
Temporomandibular joint disorders can also cause clicks or noises around the jaw joints, especially when the patient is trying to open the mouth, chewing food or simply smiling. These noises sometimes can be normal but if accompanied with pain – from moderate to severe – the condition is most likely to be Temporomandibular joint disorder. Because the ear is close to the jaw joint and pain spreads to other parts of the face, some patients may also suffer from ear pain and other symptoms, including, but not limited to, noise in the ear, dizziness or vertigo and sensitivity to sound.
Causes of Temporomandibular joint disorders
Temporomandibular joint disorder is believed to be cause by many factors which are grouped into issues with joint and issues with muscles according to TMJ Specialist Michigan. Symptoms from Temporomandibular joint disorders that are linked to muscles of the joint are the most common type found in patients suffering from this condition. These issues can be caused by tension of the jaw muscles. This can also happen if the patient is clenching the jaw during sleep. Some people also clench their jaws when they are feeling stressed or anxious which is another cause for the muscles becoming stiff and inflexible around the jaw joints. Overusing jaw muscles is another reason associated with Temporomandibular joint disorders. This happens due to habitual chewing of gum or biting of nails.
Issues can also arise from the joint itself due to wear and tear of the inside of the joint and cartilage. Certain type of arthritis can cause this condition in older adults. Inflammation in the joint due to various underlying health condition is another factor contributing to the condition as well.
Diagnosis of Temporomandibular joint disorders at TMJ Specialist Michigan
Often, Temporomandibular joint disorders are diagnosed based on the symptoms the patient is experiencing. In most cases, there are no special tests performed as the symptoms are evident and directly related to this condition. However, when the physician is unsure, he or she will order for further diagnosis through many tests including, but not limited to, blood test and MRI scan. Blood test, in fact can be really helpful to identify the area and cause of inflammation to rule out other possibilities whereas MRI scan will give a clear picture of the joint with this disorder.