In most patients, pain associated with the TMJ is a result of displacement of the cartilage disc that causes pressure and stretching of the associated sensory nerves. The popping or clicking occurs when the disk snaps into place when the jaw moves. In addition, the chewing muscles may spasm, not function efficiently, and cause pain and tenderness.
The pain may be sharp and searing, occurring each time you swallow, yawn, talk, or chew, or it may be dull and constant. It hurts over the joint immediately in front of the ear, but pain can also radiate elsewhere. It often causes spasms in the adjacent muscles that are attached to the bones of the skull, face, and jaws. Then, pain can be felt at the side of the head (the temple), the cheek, the lower jaw, and the teeth.
A very common focus of pain is in the ear. Many patients come to the ear specialist quite convinced their pain is from an ear infection. When an earache is not associated with a hearing loss and the eardrum looks normal, the doctor will consider the possibility that the pain comes from TMJ.
There are a few other symptoms besides pain that TMJ can cause. It can make popping, clicking, or grinding sounds when the jaws are opened widely, or the jaw locks wide open (dislocated). At the other extreme, TMJ can prevent the jaws from fully opening. Some people get ringing in their ears from TMJ.
Dr. Leeman is excited to employ BOTOX Therapy to relieve symptoms of TMJ. When strategically injected in areas of the face, head, and neck, the BOTOX will block the nerve signal that causes facial muscles to contract. This ultimately prevents the tension and soreness associated with TMJ. Relaxation techniques and stress reduction, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or other medications may also offer some relief from TMJ symptoms.