Understanding TMJ in Greenwood, SC
There is a lot of confusion about the terms and acronyms used when referring to your jaw joints, and even more confusion about disorders in this area.
- Temporomandibular (TM) Joints– This is the scientific name for your jaw joints. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ), one in front of each ear, connect the skull (temporal bone) to the lower jaw (mandible). These flexible joints allow the jaw to move forward and backward, up and down, and side to side. The muscles connected to the mandible control the movement and position of these joints.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – (TMD) or (TMJD) is a group of conditions that cause dysfunction and pain in the muscles and jaw joint. More than 10 million Americans suffer with some form of this disorder. Injury, arthritis, bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), muscle fatigue, and malocclusion (imperfect alignment of the bite) are believed to be common causes of TMD.
- Types of TMD – There are three principal types of TMJ disorders. Degenerative disorders involve wear and tear that can result in damage to cartilage tissue covering the joint. Derangement disorders include bone injury, displaced disc, and dislocated jaw. Muscle disorders result in pain in the muscles of the neck, shoulder, and face, also called myofascial pain.
- Myofascial Pain – (MFP) is a form of TMD involving muscles that have been contracted repeatedly, is typically stress related, but can be related to injury or repetitive motions used in hobbies or jobs. Tight muscles develop trigger points that send pain signals along the muscle, resulting in moderate to severe face, head, or ear pain. The signs of MFP can include persistent pain that progresses, a deep ache in the muscle, tender knots in the muscles, dizziness, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) among other symptoms.
- Myofascial pain dysfunction – (MPD), or myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome (MPDS), occurs when the pain becomes persistent, worsens, and limits the jaw movement. Unlike typical pain from muscle tension, which will resolve itself, MPD pain is an ongoing condition.
Diagnosis of TMJ disorders is difficult, because the symptoms and causes are so varied. Accurate diagnosis relies on the expertise of the doctor. Dr. Christopher Griffin has extensive experience in successfully relieving the pain of TMJ for patients in his Greenwood, SC practice. If you are suffering from symptoms that may be TMD, call (864) 229-2610 and schedule an appointment today.
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