TMJ = Temporomandibular joint.
It is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bones that are a part of your skull. There are two TMJ joints, one on each side of the jaw, that work together as a pair. These joints have two types of movement, a hinge movement and a sliding function that allows the jaw to drop down and open further.
TMJ Pain = TMD
Since the Tempormandibular joint takes part in chewing, drinking, speaking, swallowing, yawning and breathing wear and problems can easily arise. When problems happen in the temporomandibular joint they are called Temporomandibular disorders, or TMD. It is a complex condition, that typically results in pain in and around the jaw, which can affect your ability to chew, speak and make some facial expressions.
Due to the constant activity in the Tempormandibular joint it is difficult to find a single reason for the wear and pain. The possible factors are, tooth grinding and clenching, misaligned upper and lower teeth, injury to the jaw, stress, and arthritis. Researchers have discovered that people with Temporomandibular disorders may also suffer from other conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic headaches, endometriosis, or fibromyalgia.
When the TMJ pain starts there are a few steps you can take that may be helpful in easing symptoms, such as:
- Eating soft foods.
- Applying ice packs.
- Avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing).
- Learning techniques for relaxing and stress reduction.
- Gentle jaw exercises of stretching and relaxing that may help increase jaw movement.