The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is a joint that allows us to open and close our mouth. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, the mandible, with the skull acting as a hinge and makes it possible to move our jaw side to side.
When there is difficulty in using the jaw and the muscles in your face, it is known as a temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJ.
If you are having jaw and neck pain, there could be a problem with your temporomandibular joint.
Other Symptoms of TMJ Jaw and Neck Pain
Aside from experiencing pain, other symptoms may be felt if you have jaw and neck pain associated with TMJ. Symptoms may involve other areas like the face and ears. Other symptoms you may encounter with jaw and neck pain from TMJ include the following:
Clicking or Popping of the Jaw - Clicking or popping of the jaw is an extremely common symptom in TMJ. If this is the only symptom you have, it is best to be safe and let a professional know right away.
- Tooth Grinding or Clenching - With the jaw being out of alignment, tooth grinding and clenching may begin to occur or become more of an issue.
- Lock Jaw - Lock or a stuck jaw can happen in the closed or open mouth position.
- Earaches - This ear pain symptom is more likely to be a dull ache and can worsen with jaw movement. On occasion, one may have a sharp sensation over the dull ache. For an adult, the most common cause of ear pain is a temporomandibular joint disorder.
- Neck Aches - This pain may worsen while using the jaw but can be felt even while at rest.
- Headaches - Headaches associated with TMJ are typically tight and dull aches. This symptom most commonly occurs on one side, but it is possible to occur on both.
- Facial Pain - Cheek and temple pain can be dull and achy. These areas could undergo swelling.
- Difficulty Chewing - Because of the jaw being out of alignment, many people who have TMJ jaw and neck pain have trouble chewing and feel as if their teeth are not closing properly.
- Swelling on Side of Face - Most likely due to the damage and inflammation of the joint capsule, swelling on one side of the face may occur. This can be persistent even after the jaw has rested or may only appear after using the jaw.
- Tired Feeling in the Face - Facial muscles will work hard to offset for TMJ. This causes your facial muscles to feel tired or saggy on one side. This discomfort can be persistent or appear only after using the jaw.
- Pain or Tenderness in Neck, Shoulders, and Around the Ear - This pain or tenderness may occur while chewing, speaking, or yawning.
- Tinnitus - A “phantom noise” that sounds like humming, whistling, ringing, whooshing, buzzing, roaring, or whizzing.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms along with your jaw and neck pain, it is recommended to see a professional about treatment right away before symptoms get worse.
Treatment Options Available
Treatment options for jaw and neck pain from TMJ include medication, therapies, surgery, and alternative medicine. With so many options available, how do you know which route to take?
Our bodies have the natural ability to heal and repair themselves. While it can be quick to go after medication or surgical treatment options for fast relief, these treatment options do not help the body heal or repair from the underlying cause of your jaw and neck pain.
In addition, medication and surgery force the body to change unnaturally so that it will ignore or hide the symptoms – not actually correcting the issue. Because of medication and surgery forcing the body to change unnaturally, side effects may occur.
The most popular medications used for quick jaw and neck pain relief are pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants. Each of these medications helps certain symptoms of TMJ but does not always work.
Nondrug therapies consist of oral splints or mouth guards, physical therapy, and counseling. These therapies are made to help provide some relief along with finding factors that can heighten your jaw and neck pain so you may avoid them. While this helps relieve some pain and discomfort, they solely focus on the symptoms and not the underlying cause.
Surgical and other procedures, such as injections, are suggested when other treatments have been unreliable:
- Arthrocentesis - is a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of small needles into the temporomandibular joint so fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove any debris and inflammatory byproducts.
- Injections - are used to relieve pain by injecting corticosteroid into the joint or botox into the jaw muscles used for chewing.
- Arthroscopy - for TMJ involves placing a small thin tube into the joint space to insert an arthroscope and small surgical instruments for surgery.
- Modified condylotomy - focuses on the mandible and not the joint itself to help the pain and locking.
- Open-joint surgery - involves more risks than other procedures and is only recommended if no other treatments have proved helpful. In this surgery, the joint is repaired or replaced.
Before these options, however, it is best to bring a more natural treatment to light that could provide better results by targeting the underlying cause without harming the body: Upper cervical treatments.
A Treatment That Allows Natural Repair and Healing
Upper cervical treatments are unlike any other treatment available. Why? Because these treatments focus on the most important part of your body: the brainstem.
If there is pressure placed on the brainstem, many complications can occur throughout your body and cause conditions and disorders to arise through these complications.
Without a proper functioning brainstem, the body’s natural ability to repair and heal itself declines. In addition, an upper cervical misalignment can easily dislocate the jaw as your upper cervical spine is located right underneath the base of your skull.
Giving back your body’s natural ability to heal and repair itself means your brain to body communication will no longer be distorted, eliminating many symptoms such as pain, aches, and mental fatigue.
With a properly aligned upper cervical spine, the jaw can shift back into place and correct itself to follow the proper alignment of the upper cervical spine.
Because upper cervical treatments allow the body to target the underlying cause instead of solely focusing on the symptoms, many patients report most or even all symptoms dissipating in the process without additional help from medication or surgical procedures.
In fact, patients who have relied on medication or surgical procedures in the past have still seen a large improvement. Best of all, it is gentle and safe enough for any age experiencing TMJ jaw and neck pain.