A Primer on TMJ: Learn the Basics

If you have been diagnosed with CMD (craniomandibular disorder) or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) you have a problem with an improperly functioning jaw. The jaw is one of several joints in our bodies.  Other joints include the wrists, hands, elbows shoulders, knees, and ankles.  But out of all these joints, the jaw joint is different.  Unlike your other joints, this one involves movement of the teeth so we can chew.

TMJDid I do something to cause this?

There is no one specific cause for this disorder.  However, lifestyle factors can play an important role in the aggravating circumstances. In particular, if you are stressed, fatigued or have a chemical imbalance, these variables are known to worsen symptoms.

It’s your teeth versus your jaw

Our teeth fit together a certain way, and our jaw joint also fits together a certain way. If the two are misaligned, this is referred to as a discrepancy. Unfortunately both the teeth and the jaw send signals to the brain, resulting in confusion, and the brain does not like uncertainty. So the brain sends back signals that favor the teeth.

The jaw is the joint that loses out

Since the jaw joint is not favored by the brain, its muscles are placed under stress and strain. This in turn can result in any number of symptoms.  Fluid may build up near the joint.  Ringing of the ears and dizziness are also possible. One may also experience joint pain, headaches and back pain. It is also possible to experience all of these conditions, or perhaps one may not experience any symptoms at all.

Getting more specific

Like all joints in the body, the jaw has a ball and a socket.  And out of this relationship, there may be many different problems with the joint that are causing you pain or discomfort.

  • Internal derangement: The cartilage pad (disc) between the ball and socket has slipped out of place. This causes the popping of the jaw joint.
  • Degenerative joint disease: All joints in the body require fluid, which helps lubricate their movement. This lubricant is called synovial fluid. Unfortunately, as we age, many of us lose fluid over time. The resulting condition is called arthritis. You can also develop arthritis due to a prior injury. If you have suffered blunt force trauma to your jaw, perhaps from a fall or an altercation, your joint may start to lose synovial fluid over time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Sometimes age and trauma have nothing do with synovial fluid problems. Some people develop an auto-immune disorder called rheumatoid arthritis. With this condition, the brain starts to regard synovial fluid as an irritant. It tries to eliminate synovial fluid, and this in turn leads to joint degeneration.

Understanding the facts

Now you understand some fundamental facts about what’s happening with your jaw. Next you can move forward and begin the path to successful treatment and pain relief.

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Original Source: https://www.medcentertmj.com/tmj/primer-tmj-learn-basics/

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