Temporomandibular Joint TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome

The temporomandibular joint is where the lower jaw meets the skull and consists of the rounded end of the lower jaw (the condyle), a disc, and the socket in the skull, along with the nerves and muscles used to mobilize the jaw. The action of the joint should be smooth but can be disturbed by structural abnormalities, inflammation, and trauma, as well as problems of nerve transmission. When the jaw is closed the disc and the condyle are in the socket. As the jaw opens the disc slides forward as does the condyle. This can be felt by placing two fingers just in front of the ears on the side of the face and opening the mouth. A smooth action suggests a healthy jaw; if one side moves more than the other, or if there is a jerky, popping action this suggests some pathology at work. Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint syndrome relies on a review of symptoms and functional scans of the joint to observe any skeletal, muscular, or nerve anomalies in the area.

Neck and jaw pain, along with pain radiating up to the head and down into the shoulders can be caused by temporomandibular joint syndrome/disorder. In this condition there can be acute and chronic nerve inflammation and structural anomalies. Pain may be uneven with both right-sided neck pain and left-sided neck pain experienced exclusively in some cases. As there are numerous nerves connecting the muscles of the face, neck, and jaw to the cervical spine some patients with temporomandibular joint disorder may even feel pain in the ears and the face.

Treatments for temporomandibular joint syndrome, also historically known as Costen Syndrome, will generally involved correction of the structural abnormality if present, alleviation of inflammation, and analgesics to relieve the patient’s pain. Physical therapy may be beneficial in some cases, along with neck and jaw exercises to correct the uneven muscle tone that can result from this disorder over many years.

Next read about: Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome Causes.

Last Updated: 10/04/2010