Symptoms of Orofacial Pain and TMJ Disorders

Symptoms are the physical or mental features you experience as a result of a condition or disease.

Many symptoms can be involved in Temporomandibular Joint  Disorders. The most common are:

  • Headaches (located anywhere).
  • Pain in the temple area.
  • Pain in and around the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) area.
  • Back pain, shoulder pain, or stiffness in the neck.
  • Limited movement and opening of the jaw.
  • Earaches and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Clicking, popping or a “gravelly” sound (crepitus) in the temporomandibular joints.
  • Dizziness (vertigo).

What is orofacial pain?

Orofacial pain is a general term that refers to any pain felt in the mouth, jaw or face. Orofacial Pain is generally a symptom of some underlying cause. A common cause of orofacial pain is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Other causes include diseases of the teeth, gums, muscles, nerves, or connective tissue.

It is important to understand that many other reasons exist for pain in the head and neck area outside of TMJ problems. The site of the pain is not always the source of the pain. Pain originating from nerves, muscles, blood vessels, glands, skin, or teeth can all refer pain to the face. Causes of pain may be infection, tissue trauma, nerve disease, musculoskeletal problems, psychophysiologic effects, autoimmune phenomena, or even cancer.

Sometimes these conditions go undetected due to inadequate examination or diagnostics. Our goal is to help you get to the root of your pain, particularly when multiple overlapping conditions confound the condition.

Where do symptoms come from?

Your body is constantly adapting to changes in your environment. Each of us faces environmental and genetic stressors each day, and our bodies must compensate in order to maintain health. These stressors come from a variety of sources, some beginning even before birth, while others appear later in life. Each disturbance to your body system must be adjusted for to maintain balance and function. This constant adaptation requires energy and body resources.  At some point, your body will reach its threshold. Symptoms appear when your individual capacity is overreached.

Why didn’t I have these symptoms before?

Symptoms are directly related to the amount of physical and mental stress we encounter day to day. These stressors usually have a cumulative effect. In addition, your body’s restorative resources will vary depending on your health and lifestyle. At any time, your own individual adaptive capacity may change. Symptoms may not have been present because your body was keeping up with the adaptive changes needed to maintain proper function. When your limit was reached, your capacity reduced, sending your health into a downward spiral of pain and discomfort. Sometimes, it may only take a small trigger to send you over the edge.

How long will symptoms last?

Symptoms last as long as your body’s stress is beyond its ability to compensate. Chronic conditions may develop when symptoms are allowed to remain long-term. This makes resolution of symptoms more complex because the effect on adaptive capacity is more lasting. Early intervention will typically provide quicker recovery times. However, each individual is unique in both adaptive and restorative capacity, and resolution of symptoms will vary greatly between individuals. Age, quality of sleep, body chemistry, nutrition, immune function, and general health will each have an effect on our adaptive and restorative capacity.

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