TMJ 101: Jaw Joint Pain and Other Symptoms of the Disorder Explained
The part of your body that joins the jawbone to the skull is an atypical joint. Anatomists call it the temporomandibular joint, owing to the names of the bones, which are joined.
The structure of a synovial joint is complex because of the presence of a meniscus or disc within and surrounded by a capsule containing fluid. Ligaments connect the articulating bones to provide support and stability to the joint. If anything goes wrong with these structures, you will suffer from pain and dysfunction.
Before recommending TMJ treatment, Salt Lake City doctors determine the cause of the problems you are complaining about. Here, they offer a simple explanation of the primary symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
What could be behind TMJ pain?
The disc within the temporomandibular joint makes movements of the jaw smooth and efficient during chewing and speaking. It also acts as shock absorber. The pain you feel around the area in front of the ears can be attributed to problems concerning the disc. If the disc moves out of alignment, then the joint does not work as efficiently as before. This may occur after a direct hit or some form of physical trauma to the joint.
In some cases, the disc can erode due to arthritis and other conditions. Nevertheless, some cases wherein the exact mechanism cannot be determined despite the current understanding of the possible causes of TMJ pain.
Diagnosing jaw pain and dysfunction
In the United States, both dentists and physicians are capable of diagnosing and treating temporomandibular joint disorders. In a typical consultation, the doctor integrates the results of physical examination, tests (e.g. joint x-ray, ultrasound), and medical history to ascertain whether the problem involves the TMJ.
Sometimes, pain in the temporomandibular joint is only referred pain from another site. Only a qualified medical professional can give a diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction. It is therefore very important for someone suffering from pain and other symptoms to seek medical or dental consultation.