Chronic Jaw Pain And Associated Conditions

Chronic Jaw Pain And Associated Conditions

What We Know — And Don’t Know — About TMJD

A Consultation with Dr. Raymond Hoffmann and Dr. Jane Morley Kotchen | Featured on Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor,
I am a fifty-five year old woman, and I’ve been suffering from TMJD pain for many years. I also have arthritis, chronic fatigue and headaches. Are these conditions related, and what would help?

Dear Joan,
Many people who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD) do indeed find that they have other health problems of the type you describe. Let me sum up for you what we know about TMJD, what has proven helpful in treating it, and how it relates to other painful conditions.

TMJD refers to a group of ill-defined, painful, even debilitating disorders that affect the jaw joints, muscles and other surrounding tissues. Some people use the acronym TMJ to refer to the disorder, but TMJ is actually the abbreviation for the temporomandibular (jaw) joint itself. Health care professionals prefer to use TMD or TMJD. Whatever names it goes by, the common thread is pain or limited function in and around the jaw. There also may be popping, clicking or grating sounds when the jaws open or close, but this is not cause for concern unless accompanied by pain or limited jaw movement.

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All About TMJ

About TMJ Disorders

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Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called “TMJ,” are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. We don’t know for certain how many people have TMJ disorders, but some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected. The condition appears to be more common in women than men.

For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Generally, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.

If you have questions about TMJ disorders, you are not alone. Researchers, too, are looking for answers to what causes these conditions and what the best treatments are. Until we have scientific evidence for safe and effective treatments, it’s important to avoid, when possible, procedures that can cause permanent changes in your bite or jaw. This booklet provides information you should know if you have been told by a dentist or physician that you have a TMJ disorder.

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