What You Should Know about TMJ Disorders
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint of the jaw near the ear, but may be used to signify a variety of disorders that affect this joint as well. TMJ disorders may involve the joint itself or the various tissues that surround or attach to the joint, such as cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
While some causes are never determined for TMJ, it can be caused by damage to the cartilage disc that cushions the joint. TMJ disorders may also be caused by injury or arthritis. This disorder may also be caused by frequent clenching or grinding of the teeth or an improper bite pattern. Stress may exacerbate the condition. Tightened or injured muscles in the face, neck, and shoulders may also contribute to this condition.
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder involve pain in the jaw, face, or ear. Other symptoms involve clicking, popping, grating, or locking of the jaw. It is important to receive an accurate diagnosis, since other medical conditions may cause similar symptoms.
Once a proper diagnosis is made, treatment may begin. TMJ treatments may be obtained through a family physician, physical therapist, or through a dental care provider. Choosing a specialist to treat TMJ disorder often depends on the cause of the condition.