You know the feeling: you’re sitting at your desk and you absently put your hand up to your face and it feels… sore. Or, you wake in the morning and notice it hurts when you wash your face. Maybe the feeling comes at other times, such as before bed or even in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s all day. The soreness may feel like a bruise or an injury, or it may feel achy, like the aches you get from a fever.
This soreness in the face may be orofacial pain, which is a unique kind of pain that needs specialized care. But what would be causing your orofacial pain? More often than not, it’s a temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.
What is TMD?
A temporomandibular disorder, often called “TMD,” is a condition that affects your jaw joint. Your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, works hard every day as you chew, talk, and even breathe. If something causes irritation or inflammation, the TMJ – or the surrounding muscles and tissues – can experience pain and other symptoms.
Orofacial pain, or soreness in the face, is a common symptom – but it’s not the only one. TMD can present with different symptoms on different people. In fact, some seemingly unrelated symptoms may also be tied to your TMD. Many of our patients experience an “aha” moment when they realize all these separate issues are actually the result of one condition! Consider whether you’ve ever noticed any of the following:
- Ongoing headaches without a cause
- Pain in the neck or back
- Ear pain or pain near the ear
- Jaw and facial tenderness
- Tightness or stiffness in the jaw
- A clicking or popping sensation when you move your jaw
- Difficulty with opening or closing the mouth
- Facial or jaw pain when chewing, yawning, or talking
- Tooth sensitivity
TMD is Surprisingly Common
It’s estimated that more than 10 million people suffer from TMD. The troubling aspect of TMD is that many people go undiagnosed for a long time, suffering through their symptoms. They may be told the pain is “all in their head” because a cause for earaches or headaches can’t be identified. In fact, we see people regularly who have lived through months or even years of pain because they simply didn’t know that these symptoms could be a result of TMD.
Getting the Care You Need
A TMD diagnosis can be overwhelming. You may be asking yourself, “Where do I go from here?” Mostly, though, you may just want to know how to get relief. Although treating TMD is much more than taking a few pain relievers, there is help – and hope – available. Contact us at MedCenter TMJ to learn about how we can help you with your TMD symptoms, whatever they are – and get you back to living your life, your way again.