TMJ Dysfunction may cause headaches, ear pain, bite problems, clicking sounds, locked jaws, and other symptoms that can affect the quality of life of the patient.
When we open our mouth the rounded ends of the lower jaw joint the condyles, glide along the socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slip back top their original position when we close our mouth.
To protect our skull and the condyles there is a soft cartilaginous disc lying in between. This disc acts as a shock absorber for the TMJ during chewing and swallowing etc.
The TMJ is one of the most used joints in the body as it is used when we eat, talk, chew and yawn.
The TMJ is a totally unique joint in the body as it is the only reciprocal joint in the body. That means I can move my left elbow without moving my right elbow but if I move my left TMJ then my right TMJ must also move. This will then put a torsion and tension in the surrounding neck and shoulder muscles.
There are three main types of TMJ Dysfunction:
- Muscle Disorders
- Joint Derangement
- Degenerative Joint disease.
Muscular disorders result in pain in the muscles that control jaw function as well as neck and shoulder muscles. Due to the presence of the bodies’ normal myofascial planes system this may also cause or be caused by Thoracic (chest) or Lumbar (pelvic) problems.
Derangement disorders are related to derangement of the TMJ, such as a dislocated jaw, a displaced disc and injured bone.
Degenerative disorders are related to wear and tear of the TMJ such as arthritis. This leads to destruction of the cartilage that protects the TMJ.
It is also possible that each type of TMJ disorder may also cause or be caused by one of the other types of disorder and TMJ dysfunction may in fact be multi factorial.