Jaw pain is one of the most common symptoms people report with TMJ. But TMJ jaw pain isn’t always the same. There are actually multiple types of TMJ jaw pain, each indicating a certain type of dysfunction in your jaw. You may experience any of these types of pain, or you may experience multiple types at once.
Masticatory Muscle Pain
Masticatory muscle pain (MMP) is when the muscles that control your jaw are sore. The pain is typically dull and throbbing. It’s not focused in a single spot, but distributed throughout the muscles in the area. It may get worse when you use your jaw muscles a lot, such as when you chew tough foods, or it may seem to just get worse throughout the course of the day. It may also be associated with clenching your teeth during the day or while you sleep (bruxism).
Although you can technically move your jaw freely, the pain may prevent you from doing so.
Headaches are common in association with this jaw pain, as is neck pain and feelings of stuffiness or ringing in the ears.
Although this type of jaw pain can be caused by injury or noticeable moments of overwork, it also has a strong psychological component as well as hormonal influence. Often, it’s not possible to identify the specific cause.
Temporomandibular Joint Pain
The temporomandibular joint is the joint where your jaw meets your skull, and the reason why TMJ is called TMJ. (Short for temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJ is also called TMD, TMJD, and even TMJDS.) This type of pain tends to be localized and sharp.
It you have this type of jaw joint pain, you may also experience jaw sounds like popping or clicking. Sometimes your jaw motion may be irregular, or it may be limited. If you hear a grinding sound in the joint, it’s likely your TMJ is advanced, and you’re grinding bone, which can result in more serious and more constant pain.
Jaw joint pain can be caused by the same types of overwork that can cause MMP, and it may be secondary to it. Injury is another common cause of jaw joint pain. You don’t need to have a blow to the jaw to experience dislocation–often the sudden acceleration that occurs in a car wreck is enough.
Nerve Pain in the Jaw
Another type of pain that can be associated with TMJ is nerve pain. In this pain, your jaw joint or muscles are putting pressure on a nerve. This results in a sharp, electric pain. Or, sometimes, it results in numbness. The pain can be located in your jaw, or it can be elsewhere along the nerve that is being pinched, such as in your face or forehead.
This type of pain is usually secondary to other types of pain, but it can be independent and associated with either overexertion or injury.
Relief Is Here
No matter what type of jaw pain you’re experiencing, TMJ treatment can help. By helping your jaw retain a more relaxed, natural position, all types of jaw pain can be controlled.
If you want to learn more about TMJ treatment and how it can help your jaw pain, please contact Strober Dental in San Diego today.