Even to those who have it—and research suggests the numbers are in the millions—TMJ stays mysterious. At bottom, this is a joint problem—specifically the temporomandibular joint, which controls much of the masticatory and neurofascial functions. In addition to its physical duties, the TMJ has a high nervous component which can make the symptoms difficult to track. They present all over, from the head to the lower back.
Some of the most common TMJ symptoms are of the ear, nose, and throat. An otolaryngologist is often one of the treating doctors, if not the doctor who makes the initial discovery. Patients report headaches that feel like a band encircling the entire head. Or they have a persistent ringing in their ears, which can cause a misdiagnosis of tinnitus.
Of course, the jaw is the seat of trouble. Sometimes you wake up to discover you cannot close your jaw all the way without pain. Sometimes an audible clicking or popping in the jaw is heard. Difficulty eating or swallowing without pain is widely reported. Any or all of these symptoms can result in a diagnosis of TMJ, or the closest thing doctors will commit to. Due to TMJ’s amorphous state and high degree of unpredictability, some doctors feel an official diagnosis is meaningless.
Our expert in TMJ in Thousand Oaks is standing by for your questions and concerns.