Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?
- What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome?
- What causes TMJ syndrome?
- What are the signs and symptoms of TMJ syndrome?
- How is TMJ syndrome diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for TMJ syndrome?
- What is the prognosis for TMJ syndrome?
- Can TMJ syndrome be prevented?
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What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, also known as the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone to the skull. The injured temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches; tooth grinding; and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.
What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome?
There are several risk factors for TMJ syndrome:
- Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and abnormalities of jaw muscle function.
- Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching.
- Women aged 18 to 44 have increased risk.
- Patients with other chronic inflammatory disorders and painful musculoskeletal conditions have increased risk.
- People with jaw trauma or poorly positioned teeth have increased risk.
- People who have a genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress responses may be more susceptible.
What causes TMJ syndrome?
The causes of TMJ syndrome are not completely understood. Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMJ syndrome or if they are a result of the disorder. Causes may include:
- Misalignment (malocclusion) of or trauma to the teeth or jaw
- Teeth grinding
- Poor posture
- Arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders
- Excessive gum chewing
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