A bad headache with jaw pain are two common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD for short. But they are also symptoms of several other ailments. It is important to see a doctor to determine what is causing the pain. These symptoms usually worsen over time if not treated.
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You might grind or clench you teeth at night or you may have received an injury. Whatever the cause, the symptoms are some or all of the following:
- Pain and other symptoms affecting the head, jaw and face.
- Headache, tenderness of the jaw muscles
- pain surrounding the ear area
- dull aching facial pain with severe exacerbation in or around the ear
The above are all common symptoms of TMD.You may also have
- Difficulty in opening the mouth “locking” of the jaw
- clicking noises as the mouth is opened or closed
- pain associated with opening the mouth very wide e.g. yawning or by chewing if persistent.
Causes of TMJ pain
There are a number of causes but principally it is felt that this pain and other symptoms are related to spasm of the muscles that are involved in chewing/mastication.
This may be as a result of
- grinding or clenching the teeth due to stress, emotional tension or habit.
- mal-alignment of the internal structures of the joint which may cause the muscles and ligaments which support this joint to not work together properly.
- Damage to the meniscus, its attachments or other internal joint problems may also affect the muscles and supporting joint structures and lead to symptoms.
- Incorrect alignment of the teeth and\or jaws which may place additional stress on the muscles and may be considered a factor.
- TMJ problems may also be caused by displacement of the joint components as a result of jaw, head, and neck injuries.
- Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis are a rare cause of TMJ problems, but can occur and their management is not isolated to this joint but forms part of the overall care of that form of arthritis.