Neck and Jaw Pain: Understanding the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Have you ever encountered neck and jaw pain upon waking up? If you had, you’re probably experiencing the early signs and symptoms of the temporomandibular joint disorder, better known as TMJD. Tmj disorder is not a common type of health condition. Several factors could trigger TMJ disorder development such as; jaw injury, chronic bruxism, specific types of arthritis, or osteoarthritis, and TMJ connective tissue diseases. At first, the discomfort may be tolerable; however, it may develop into something worse that you may need to undergo surgery. Although circumstances that warrant surgery are quite rare, it is better to treat TMJ disorder early, to avoid further complications. If you want to learn more, please visit today by clicking on the link provided above.


Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ

To better understand the TMJ disorder, it’s best to learn the parts affected first. That way, you can determine the possible causes, and react accordingly if you’re experiencing it. So, let’s define what’s the meaning of TMJ.

The Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ acts as the connector of your jawbone and skull. They are composed of muscles, ligaments, and joints that work on an up and down motion when you chew or speak. The TMJ is also inter-connected with nerves and connective tissues that are used whenever our jaw moves.


The TMJ Disorder

It is somewhat difficult to determine the true cause of TMJ disorder. It can be a combination of multiple health issues revolving around the TMJ. Neck and jaw pain are some of the most common sensations recorded to help determine the cause. But some other signs and symptoms correlate with TMJ disorder. These are:

  • Jaw muscle tenderness
  • Jaw pain on both sides or one side of the TMJ
  • Jaw pain when chewing or talking
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sound from the mouth accompanied by jaw pain


TMJ Disorder Complications

The jaw pain associated with TMJ disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. People sometimes take the pain for granted because they think of it as ordinary muscle pain. However, if left untreated, the pain may become unbearable, and may compromise your speech and eating habits. Here are the possible complications:

  • Severe jaw pain that affects speech and eating
  • Jaw cartilage damage and erosion that may cause swelling
  • Severe damage to connective tissues in the TMJ
  • Tmj stiffness and limited jaw movement
  • Malocclusion from chronic bruxism


TMJ Disorder Treatment

Self-care is the most effective way to treat TMJ disorder with jaw pain. The steps can be done at home without the doctor’s intervention. But keep in mind that your doctor is always the best person to talk to first. Let’s try the home remedies first. Here are the steps:

  • Use cold compress in case of jaw pain with swelling
  • Minimise jaw movement
  • Eat only soft foods
  • Do not eat gum or jerky
  • Practice jaw exercises moderately
  • Try to reduce stress by relaxing
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Apply topical painkillers

However, if the pain and discomfort didn’t go away, visit your doctor or dentist for the medical approach. Click on this link to book an appointment with a practitioner to find out treatment options.


Medical Treatment:

  • Prescription medicine
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Customised mouthguards for TMJ disorder and bruxism
  • Botox treatment to decrease muscle tension
  • Behavioural therapy to reduce stress


Rare cases may require surgery. These are:

  • Joint replacement surgery
  • Dental alignment treatment to improve bite and teeth
  • Fluid and debris build-up removal or arthrocentesis


TMJ Disorder Prevention

It is difficult to prevent TMJ disorder; however, you can take steps to reduce jaw pain and further complications.

Over-the-counter pain killers are highly effective, especially in early cases. You can also start practising relaxation techniques to lower your stress levels. Stress might be one of the reasons why TMJ develops. But the good news is, stress is controllable. Another non-invasive treatment method is wearing TMJ mouth guards. Mouthguards are effective in protecting your TMJ and teeth from bruxism and TMJ disorder.


Types of Mouth Guards for TMJ Disorder

  • The Standard Mouthguard: The standard night guard is one of the most common types of mouthguards used in treating TMJ disorder and bruxism. It is widely available and inexpensive. You can buy them in most sports’ depot all over the country. The advantage of the standard mouthguard is that it can provide immediate relief for neck and jaw pain. The downside is, it rarely fits.


  • The Microwaveable Mouthguard: This type of mouthguard is more effective compared with the standard types. They can be re-moulded in a microwave to give you a better fit inside the mouth. However, it’s still not capable of providing the perfect fit. Be careful in wearing non-custom fitted mouthguards since they may cause possible complications. Although, if you don’t have time to get a custom-fitted mouthguard yet, the standard and microwaveable mouthguards will do just fine, albeit temporarily. It’s better than nothing, especially if the TMJ disorder interrupts your sleeping patterns and eating habits.


  • The Custom-Fitted Mouthguard: This type of mouthguard is your best option if you have TMJ disorder or bruxism. These mouthguards are specifically made from the shape of your mouth and teeth. They provide the best protection from teeth grinding that triggers TMJ disorder and jaw pain. Although it takes some time for them to be created, the wait is all worth it.


Other Possible Causes of Neck and Jaw Pain

  • Cluster Headache: This type of pain typically starts around one of your eyes, and may also affect your jaw if left unchecked.


  • Sinuses: Many reasons may cause sinus problems that can also affect your neck and jaw. Excessive mucus accumulation is one of the most common reasons why you experience neck and jaw pain.


  • Toothache: Toothache may cause pain that can extend to your neck and jaw. Cases like teeth and gum infection with abscess can definitely cause neck and jaw pain.


Final Thoughts

In case you encounter neck and jaw pain upon waking, it’s best to seek medical help. You can either talk to your dentist or physician since they are both capable of diagnosing the problem. Find a clinic near you to get help. Never take any pain or discomfort that you feel in your body for granted. Keep in mind that prevention is way better than the cure.


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