Signs and symptoms of TMJ problems

The three main complaints of patients with TMD are:

  • Pain – either in the jaw joint or muscles that move the jaw
  • Sounds – such as clicking in the jaw joint
  • Limitation of jaw movements which includes difficulty in opening your mouth or locking or difficulty chewing.

Other complaints may include headache, earache, tinnitus (or ringing in the ear), feeling of swelling in the jaw joint or other parts of the face, numbness in the cheek area, difficulty in sleeping or concentrating. All these may be associated with TMJ problems.

TMD or TMJ includes a number of different disorders so we would expect more than one cause. Indeed, the causes of TMJ disorders are multifactorial. It is difficult to decide which are at work for any patient. We know that loading the jaw joint can be an important factor, as is stress and activities such as clenching or grinding.

Headache and TMJ problems do seem to be associated, but this is not a cause and effect relationship and TMJ is not the only or the main cause of headaches.

Neuropathic Pain
This is pain due to an injury to a nerve itself or to a nerve that is not functioning properly. This sort of pain is often described as burning or stabbing and maybe accompanied by numbness and a painful response to normal stimuli.