June 9, 2023

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TMJ is the joint between where the jaw bone meets the skull located right in front of the ears. Most patients usually have pain on one side or at the connection between the jawbones in the skull, at the joint, right in front of the ears. Other symptoms of this condition include ringing and stuffiness in the ear. The CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center team treats Gaithersburg TMJ patients that complain of pain affecting their ability to eat or talk, helping them move their mouth freely.

The three common causes of TMJ disorder include:

1. Tension tightness or overuse of the muscle surrounding the TMJ

To tell if the muscle is causing your problem, take the pad of your fingers and run it down the side, starting at the joint and moving downwards, along your jawline, and then up along the sides around your temples. Evaluate where it feels sorer. If a muscle is causing your jaw pain, then you are going to have sore muscles.

2. Joint disc problems

Within the TMJ, there is a little disc that is controlled by some nerves. Based on how some muscles connect to this disc, it can be pulled around in different ways and become a little bit displaced, which can cause pain when you try to open or close your mouth. The hallmark sign of a joint problem causing your jaw pain would be that you have noises. You can have clicking, popping, or may feel some locking in the jaw, an inability to open the mouth as far, or it will not move as far as it used to.

3. Jaw pain originating from the neck

The best way to know if the neck contributes to your jaw pain is that you may also have headaches. These headaches can be on both sides, almost like a band around the forehead, but often they start in the back of the neck. It kind of wraps from the back around the side, maybe even going to the eye and or the temple. A test to determine if the neck is an issue is assessing if your neck feels stiff, is sore, or if it moves as well as it should.

If you want to see if it does not move as well, there is a way that you can isolate the joints in the upper neck so that you are just comparing one side to the other. The simple test is bending your chin as far as you can towards your chest and maintaining that position as you turn your head to the right and the left. This technique will help you to see if there is a difference or pain and stiffness going one way versus the other.

Contact CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center if you suspect that you might have any of the above TMJ symptoms, get professional and individualized treatment to help you eliminate pain, and resume vital oral activities like chewing and talking.

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