To understand the disorder, you should have a good understanding about the temporomandibular joint. It is the ball-and-socket that connects your upper and lower jaws. This is the joint that you use every day for chewing, yawning, talking, and biting. Any problem in the joint will affect all these functions.
Common Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The most common symptom of this disorder is headache. It is seen in almost 80% of patients. Almost 40% of patients also exhibit facial pain. The pain is increased when trying to open and close the mouth. Other predisposing factors include air conditioning and cold weather. This will cause contraction of the facial muscles, thereby increasing the pain.
Another common symptom of TMJ disorder is ear pain. It is seen in almost 50% of patients. The pain is commonly in front of the ear. Occasionally, it also occurs below the ear. The ear pain may or may not be associated with infection in the ear. When you visit your doctor with an ear infection, the doctor may also check the temporomandibular joint. This is done for the proper diagnosis of the condition.
Another common symptom associated with the disorder is a popping or grinding sound when moving the jaw. This is called crepitus. The patient may also exhibit increased pain along with crepitus. Dizziness is also seen in some patients with this disorder. It occurs in almost 40% of patients.
Some 33% of patients also report fullness of the ear. Ear fullness and pain is usually seen in patients with problems of the Eustachian tube, which regulates the pressure inside the middle ear. It becomes especially troublesome for patients when flying in commercial airplanes.
Some patients also complain about ringing in the ear. This problem is known as tinnitus, and is seen in 33% of patients.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
This disorder is mainly caused by excessive wear and tear of the joint. One of the main reasons for this wear and tear is teeth grinding in the night. Improper alignment and other problems with the teeth can also result in this disorder. Other predisposing factors include any previous fractures and stress. If you have the habit of holding the telephone between the shoulder and the head, it may also lead to TMJ disorder.
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