Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) primarily relates to dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and the temporomandibular joints. This disorder is often referred to as TMJ, although TMJ is simply the join itself, not the disorder of it.
Primarily, TMD reflects overload and repetitive strain. It occurs, almost always unconsciously and is an inbuilt reflex response to stressful or intense situations. It “goes with” being conscientious, ernest and caring with internalizing of life’s “issues” and sometimes a tendency towards OCD.
The most noticeable feature of TMD is pain, followed by restricted mandibular movement, and noises from the Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) during jaw movement.
It can be very detrimental to our quality of life, as the symptoms are not readily amenable to conventional drug therapy
TMD is the second most frequent cause of orofacial pain after dental pain (i.e. toothache).
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder vary in their presentation. The symptoms will usually involve more than one of the various components of the masticatory system, muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments, bones, connective tissue and teeth.
The three classically described, cardinal signs and symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain and tenderness on palpation in the muscles of mastication, or of the joint itself (preauricular pain] ie. pain felt just in front of the ear. Pain is the defining feature of TMD and is usually aggravated by manipulation or function, such as when chewing, clenching, or yawning, and is often worse upon waking.
- Limited range of mandibular movement, which may cause difficulty eating or even talking. There may be locking of the jaw, or stiffness in the jaw muscles and the joints, especially present upon waking. There may also be incoordination, asymmetry or deviation of mandibular movement.
- Noises from the TMJ during mandibular movement, which may be intermittent. Joint noises may be described as clicking, popping, or crepitus (grating). Progressive worsening of TMJ comfort and range of motion may signify a fully dislocated disc [meniscus] with the likelihood of ‘locking’.
Watch the following short video about TMJ pain
For more information about disorders of ‘TMJ’ is, we recommend visiting www.tmj.org
- Click here to learn about Dr Tuffley’s management program for TMD.
- Click here to watch TMD patient testimonials.
- Click here to watch a 60 minute seminar delivered by Dr Mark Tuffley on TMJ dysfunction.