Pain in the head, neck or back? It could be your jaw

If you have been experiencing pain in your neck, head or back, you may be suffering from Temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

TMD are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and the nerves linked to chronic facial pain and are usually misdiagnosed. Approximately 70% of neck problems may be related to dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint, according to experts.

The TMJ is situated on the face between the temple and the jaw. 

The Temporomandibular Joint

The TMJ is a small, intricate joint that has a disc to stabilise it and to obscure muscles and ligaments that keep the joint in place and help move it, says Very Well Health. 

TMJ Dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction or TMJ disorder (TMJD), may result from trauma, dental problems, postural issues, or psychiatric conditions. 

TMJD is often attributed to the way you open your jaw or displacement of the disc that’s located inside the joint.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research classifies TMD as Myofascial pain; which is discomfort or pain in the connective tissue covering the muscles (fascia) and the muscles that control jaw, neck, and shoulder function and as Internal derangement of the joint; a dislocated jaw or displaced disk. 

URMC elaborates that a displaced disk could be a disk in the cushion of cartilage between the head of the jaw bone and the skull. Or it may mean an injury to the rounded end of the jaw bone that articulates with the temporal skull bone, also known as the condyle.

What are the symptoms of TMD?

People who suffer from TMJD experience headaches, pain behind the eyes, in the face, shoulder, neck, or back and intermittent bouts of lockjaw. Other symptoms include dizziness, tooth sensitivity, and earaches.

What causes TMD?

Nervous System disorders may aggravate TMJD.

Too much strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing and speech can cause TMJD. This strain may be due the habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth, also known as Bruxism. Injury to the jaw, the head, or the neck may cause TMD. 

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